In these difficult times, the “I’m broke” refrain is all too familiar. But not until we are broken in spirit or body do we realize how blessed we are.
In Jacob’s wrestle with God (Genesis 32:24-32), we are made aware of Jacob’s loneliness, hunger, brokenness and honesty. We, too, if left alone with our thoughts, are likely to despair at life’s unfairness. In the depths of psychological distress, it is critical to shun distractions, and to listen to God. We need to hear His voice, and His proposed solutions.
Jacob, alone with God (in the form of an angel), learned much about the nature and impact of defeat. When Jacob’s hip was broken, his emotions were similarly shattered.
When we reach a broken state and become desperate to receive God’s blessing (like Jacob), it will be available to us. When the visiting angel cried out to Jacob to release him (Genesis 32:26), Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Jacob, after working for 14 years in a foreign land to obtain the wife he desired, Rachel, was ready to return home.
Conflicts change us, and move us toward becoming the person God had intended. When the angel asked Jacob his name, Jacob confronted the fact that he had stolen his brother’s birthright. God knew Jacob’s identity, and that Jacob was undeserving of a blessing. Jacob did not hide behind a lie, but was truthful with the angel. When we are confronted with our past, and claim it in honesty, we provide ourselves a chance of future blessings.
As Jacob grew closer to God and turned a spiritual corner, his life changed. After revealing his true name to the angel, the angel said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
Jacob had exiled himself from his home after he and his mother deceived his father into blessing Jacob with an inheritance. How many times do we lie to God as if He does not know the truth about us?
After we wrestle with angels, and face loneliness and hunger, we can become honest with ourselves and with God. God may have to break our spirits before He can bless and remake us. It is hard to acknowledge that we fail when we self-direct our lives, instead of allowing God to shape our destinies.
Do you feel broken? Are you trying to do something worthwhile with your life? Have you been wrestling inwardly with self-truths, and outwardly with future aspirations? You may have gained a sense of victory in your challenging dialogue with God, or you may be pondering your next step. It is hard to achieve anything of significance in life without first humbling oneself before God. But in accepting the truth, and allowing ourselves to become broken, we gain the opportunity to be blessed!
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami. To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at firstname.lastname@example.org.