One thing we have to accept this side of heaven is that whenever God touches us, at times it may not feel very good. But even more importantly, whenever the Lord intervenes and blasts through into our lives, we must realize that whether his touch is painful or not, it’s ALWAYS good and FOR our good.
Jacob found this out in famous fashion as we learned this past Sunday from Genesis 32.
He was on his way back home — the land of his fathers he left long ago in fear of his life after he deceived his brother Esau. So, in his fear, Jacob is back to his scheming ways. A smart man, he decides to divide his camp so that in case Esau’s men attack one of Jacob’s camps, the other can escape and be spared.
Pastor Scott pointed a number of crucial truths from this passage that we can apply to our own lives. And it’s the fact that if we live a deceptive lifestyle, it will lead to fear — and that fear will in turn feed the need to be more deceptive, and on and on. A vicious cycle. Jacob doesn’t like obstacles, so he cuts corners. Then his mind races, and the fear sets in, and he’s continually assuming the worst. Everything is negative. A disaster is right around the bend, just waiting for him. Who would want to live like that? And we don’t have to if we live lives of integrity before the Lord!
But something good comes from Jacob’s internal struggle, and he turns over his distress to the Lord and prays for deliverance from Esau — and significantly, Jacob reminds God (as if God needed reminding) of his promises to him of a fruitful life. Jacob also takes practical action and sends generous gifts of animals ahead of him so that Esau might accept him.
And then came the moment we all know: when Jacob was alone, God came and wrestled all night with him. But Jacob wouldn’t let go until he received a blessing. And with that, Jacob was renamed “Israel” — and his hip was touched and went out of joint, resulting in a life-long limp.
What can we conclude from all of this? When the Lord wants to do something deeper in our lives, it often will involve us wrestling with a problem, wrestling spiritually with the Lord until we break through and come to new realizations — and the beauty of a new dawn breaking. But sometimes when God does something deep within us, pain is involved. In Jacob’s case, now with a hip out of joint, every time he leans on his cane, he’s reminded of what the Lord did, and that he must depend on God for everything in his life. As Pastor Scott said, it’s not about Jacob’s hip; it’s about Jacob’s heart.
God wants to do something deeper in you and in me — to the point where we’re renamed and are changed from the inside out. If the Lord is working on you, it might not always feel good — but you can rejoice because God disciplines and refines those he loves. Like Paul and his thorn in the flesh, the Lord’s grace is sufficient when he’s bringing us through pain. When we are weak, God is strong.
“…but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:10-11)