Summary: Wrestling with God brings victory!
From Heel Grabber to Israel
Text : Gen. 32:22-32
1. Read Gen. 32:22-32
2. Illustration: "You must pray with all your might. That does not mean saying your prayers, or sitting gazing about in church or chapel with eyes wide open while someone else says them for you. It means fervent, effectual, untiring wrestling with God...This kind of prayer be sure the devil and the world and your own indolent, unbelieving nature will oppose. They will pour water on this flame." Booth, William
3. As fallible, fallen, and imperfect human beings, a relationship with a holy and righteous God is not always easy.
a. Sometimes it is painful
b. Sometimes it is confusing
c. Sometimes its hard work
4. However, like all things in life that are worthwhile, it is worth it.
Proposition: Wrestling with God brings victory!
Transition: First, we see that...
I. Wrestling With God Can Be Painful (22-25)
A. A Man Wrestled With Him
1. Jacob is preparing to go and meet his brother Esau, and at night he sends his family, servants, and possession across the ford at Jabbok.
2. For some reason, Jacob decides to stay behind. We are not told why Jacob stays behind.
a. Perhaps he was anticipating an encounter with Esau, and so he began a night crossing to establish his ground in the land (Ross, Creation and Blessing, 552).
b. Perhaps he felt he had some unfinished business.
2. While he was alone, he was attacked and finds himself in the wrestling match of his life.
a. It was dark, and so all that Jacob knows at this point in the story is that this is a man, or so it seems.
b. As the story progresses, Jacob will discover the true identity of his opponent.
3. Now Jacob is pretty strong, and a little wirery, so he puts up a good scrap with his assailant.
a. We know from a few chapters ago that Jacob is strong because he moved the stone away from the well.
b. His dealing with his father-in-law caused his to be crafty and wise, so he puts up a good fight.
4. His assailant sees that he is not winning the fight, so "he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him."
a. This person’s touch, as we shall see later, is unmistakable.
b. This "touch" was enough to throw his thigh out of joint and therefore, breaks his hip.
c. With his hip out of joint, Jacob could not effectively wrestle any more, all he could do was prevent his adversary from escaping (Horton, Complete Biblical Library - Genesis, 309).
B. No Pain No Gain
1. Illustration: As a young doctor in India, Paul Brand had made the groundbreaking medical discovery that leprosy does its damage merely by destroying nerve endings. People who lose pain sensation can inadvertently damage themselves by simple actions as gripping a splintered rake or wearing tight shoes. Pressure sores form, infection sets in and no pain signals alert them to tend to the wounded area. Paul Brand knew what he was talking bout. “Most people view pain as an enemy. Yet, as my leprosy patients prove, pain forces us to pay attention to threats against our bodies. Without it, heart attacks, strokes, ruptured appendixes, and stomach ulcers would all occur without any warning. Who would ever visit a doctor apart from pain’s warnings? Virtually every reponse of our bodies that we view with irritation or disgust – blister, swelling, fever, sneeze, cough and especially pain – demonstrates a reflex toward health. In all these things normally considered enemies, we can find reason to be grateful.” (Philip Yancey in Soul Survivors –Doubleday)
2. Sometimes growing in our relationship with God can be painful.
a. It can be painful to be confronted with our sin.
b. It can be painful to be humbled by a righteous and holy God.
c. It can be painful to go through times of difficulties.
3. However, it is in that pain that we often find blessing.
a. Jacob may have broken his hip in the encounter, but it led to blessing.
b. Jacob may have broken his hip, but his life was changed forever.
4. James 1:2 Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy (NLT).
5. Wrestling with God is not always pleasant, and it is often painful, but in the end it leds to blessing.
a. It may be painful for a season, but when that season is over we will know the goodness of an almighty God.
b. It may be painful for a season, but joy will come in the end.
c. Ps. 126:5-6 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.