Links Daily Devotional

Blessed Injury

When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. (Genesis 32:25, NIV)

I’ve been back just a couple of days from a week of meetings with our Links Players staff and board. They are a great bunch of people and our time together was excellent, but we all suffer from a common malady: aging.

With age comes injury. One guy begged off from a round of golf—bad back. Another tweaked his knee—again. It’s not easy being old and athletic!

I find it interesting, however, that an injury plays a major part in the entire scope of the biblical story.

This story starts (we shall say, though there were precipitating events leading to this stage) alongside the Jabbok River, near a place called Mahanaim. It was the middle of the night, and Jacob faced the prospect of a hostile reunion with his brother Esau the next day. That meeting, as it happened, was quite amicable—so unlike the preceding hours that Jacob was about to spend, caught up in a grappling match with the angel of God.

Now understand, there is much discussion about whether Jacob wrestled with a man, an angel, or God himself. The best theologians have to offer is this: the other wrestler was not God in his Spirit form, but God so embodied that Jacob said at the end of their encounter: “I have seen God face to face.” God? Perhaps not exactly. But as good as God. Sent by God. Indwelt by God. God. You get the idea.

For hours, Jacob and this holy other locked shoulders, arms, fists. Their feet bit into the ground as their legs held like rooted trunks in a storm. And what a storm it was! Neither side would give, neither man could win.

It was at that point, upon the realization that these two physical beings were stalemated, that the unknown man injured Jacob, touching his hip joint in such a way that Jacob would not be able to hold out. Recognizing his new advantage, the man asked Jacob a question we would hear as, “Give?”

The exchange continues with Jacob demanding a blessing and finding that blessing in an amazing new name—the name that would stick with God’s people for all time—Israel (meaning “struggles with God”!).

But I find it significant that God used such an injury to get Jacob’s attention. Why? Because when, as a New Testament believer, I read the letter to the Hebrews, I find this about God’s living and active Word: “It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow” (Hebrews 4:12). God, like any surgeon, will injure us in the process of making us whole. Jacob was missing a blessing. He knew it. And likely, like you and me, he was hoping that blessing would come by way of the Easy Road. Nope. It came in the struggle, the wrestling match, the battle.

How will your blessing come? Don’t be surprised if it comes through difficulty. So often this is the means God employs to get our attention and enact new life in us.

Jeff Hopper
November 20, 2013
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