Facing the gradual resumption of work and return to normal life, how should Christians regain power from God so they can “soar like an eagle?” What are the new feelings and preparation for life and faith in the future? These questions remind me of a particularly intriguing story in Genesis 32: "Jacob wrestles with a messenger of God." It is particularly interesting to think about how a man could wrestle with God. The Bible records that only Jacob himself and God's messenger experienced this “wrestling.”
Good and evil were combined within the person of Jacob. In fact, Jacob's human nature had a particularly remarkable characteristic which is also suggested by his name, meaning “to grab.” In life he tried to grab the birthright of the eldest son; in material things he tried to grab enjoyment; and in his beliefs he tried to grab God’s power and blessings. Genesis Chapter 32 was a turning point in Jacob's spiritual journey. This laid a solid foundation for his future spiritual progress and abundance. We also can receive light from this understanding.
Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. Readers who are familiar with the Old Testament know that Jacob stole the name of his older brother, Esau. He designed a scheme to cheat his father and receive the blessing intended for Esau. Later he had to flee to live with his uncle Laban because he heard Esau would kill him. Soon 20 years passed by, Jacob had two wives and two concubines with 11 sons as well as herds of cattle, sheep, camels and other livestock. He labored hard in his uncle's family. That made Jacob homesick all the more. Finally, one day he took his wife and children and returned home.
But Jacob worried that his brother Esau might take revenge on him because of what he had done in the past. He was even more worried that Esau might think he was returning to divide up the family’s inheritance and wealth and harm him. So Jacob sent servants in advance to Edom to greet Esau. He was afraid and upset when he learned that Esau responded by coming towards him with 400 troops! Jacob said to himself—this is probably the end. So he divided all the people and the livestock into two groups thinking—if Esau kills the first group, the other group can escape. He made gifts from his possessions and instructed the servants to present them to Esau, indicating that he was not coming back to claim the family business and at the same time that he wished to make things right with his brother.
Although he carefully considered everything and made thoughtful arrangements, Jacob's mind was still not at peace. At the thought of coming face-to-face with his brother whom he had wronged, he couldn’t think clearly. At this time his heart turned to God. He remembered during the past 20 years how God had so powerfully guided and preserved him. He remembered God's promise to him: "Go back to your father’s land, I will treat you well." Then he sincerely prayed to God: "Please save me from my brother Esau’s hand because I am afraid that he will come to kill me, even my wives and children." As Psalm 77:2 says, "I seek the Lord on the days of suffering."
It was in this desperation that Jacob learned again to seek and rely on the Lord. The end of a man is the beginning of God. No Christian's life will be smooth sailing. There are difficulties and even the danger of death, but we can remember what Job said: "Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward." Paul also said, "We have to go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God."
Difficulties are inevitable. They are not unexpected. Yet the key is how we face and overcome these difficulties. Job's experience tells us, "As far as I am concerned, I will look up to God and entrust my affairs to Him."
Today, in the face of such a severe pandemic, it is also necessary to admit to God that we are powerless and that even Christians need to go through all kinds of hardships and difficulties. But we are not without someone to depend on. Job told us to look to God, to entrust our lives to His hands, the one true God who created all things in the universe, and to obey Him. The Lord who gives also takes back. His mind is higher than ours. What should we worry about? In such a time of loneliness and helplessness, it is time for us to seek God.
- Translated by Charlie Li