Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
I think we have all seen paintings and drawings that attempt to depict this picture. God and man struggle fiercely in the dust. There is great force and movement in the scene. One can almost feel the tension. It is a still frame of a mighty battle that took place over an evening. And while one might expect the man to tire and give in, he persists. And after God strikes his hip, still he persists. Then God calls for an end to the struggle, but the man will not let go before receiving a blessing. This is persistent faith that moves God.
Oh, that we would fight for our blessings just like Jacob. Oh, that we would recognize our utter need for God and keep hold of him despite all other forces that come against us. We are not called to an easy faith or an easy walk. We are called to continual growth in our persistence and perseverance because this is necessary to combat those things that try to get between us and God. When the winds blow and the rains come and the waves crash against our side, it takes the grip of Jacob to hold fast to our God until we receive our blessing and salvation from the moment. After this great show of faith, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. His steadfastness in the struggle actually becomes his identity. It is not only something that he did but becomes who he is.
As we go through our lives walking hand in hand with our God, one thing becomes evident. There is no moment at which He desires that we let go of him. He wants us to hold on to him through it all. And while that is not necessarily a sign that we will have ease in all things, it is a sign that our steadfastness and persistence will be honored and blessed by God. Father, give us the hunger for You that would cause us to not let go in the midst of the struggle, realizing that You are our only source of blessing and our only need.