Our greatest struggle
Everybody has struggles. It doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have, or what you’ve accomplished in life, you have difficulties you must face.
Usually, we think about our struggles in terms of our circumstances. “If this situation would only improve,” we think, “then I’d be relieved of this struggle.”
Surely, our circumstances do affect us, in a big way. But far more important is what’s going on inside us, especially concerning our relationship with God. In fact, it could be said that our greatest struggle is not any particular problem we face – no matter how great it is – but how we are coming to terms with God’s claim on our lives.
This is the message that comes through from the Bible’s story about Jacob’s wresting match with God (Gen.32).
God had blessed Jacob abundantly – but he still had problems. He was at odds with his father, his uncle, and his brother. So, when one night Jacob found himself entangled in a wrestling match, it’s not unreasonable to assume that one of these men had come upon him. But that’s not what happened. Jacob discovered he was wrestling with God.
As dawn broke, the Lord urged Jacob to let Him go. But Jacob persisted, and said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” In this struggle, Jacob prevails, but not before the Lord puts his thigh out of joint, giving him a limp.
This incident raises a couple of questions worth pondering.
First, what does it mean to prevail with God? As Jacob prevailed with God, does that mean he got the upper hand with God and was in a position to dominate Him. Just the opposite. It means that Jacob prevailed with God in that he learned submission to Him.
Second, why is it that God gave Jacob a limp? Was this a sign of defeat? Not at all. Earlier in Genesis, God foretold that the serpent would be crushed in the head while the Messiah was bruised in the heel. Because of this, it was fitting that Jacob, as the seed of God’s promise, would be afflicted with a limp as he went forward to a greater experience of God’s blessing.
What does this have to do with you? Plenty.
As you face your own struggles, you have the opportunity to submit to God and learn to trust Him. In this way you “enter by the narrow gate” (Mt.11:12) and “overwhelmingly conquer” (Rom.8:37) as you prevail with Him.
Also, just because you struggle does not mean you are not moving forward. God uses trials to mature us, so that through them we would receive the “crown of life” (Jas.1:12). God’s people limp their way to victory, and do so because their head, Jesus Christ, rules over all (Heb.10:12,13).
Our greatest struggle is not found in difficult circumstances, but in submitting to God in those circumstances. And it’s in submitting to Him that we find victory.