The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and [Jacob] was limping because of his hip. Genesis 32:31
Faye touched the scars on her abdomen. She had endured another surgery to remove esophageal-stomach cancer. This time doctors had taken part of her stomach and left a jagged scar that revealed the extent of their work. She told her husband, “Scars represent either the pain of cancer or the start of healing. I choose my scars to be symbols of healing.”
Jacob faced a similar choice after his all-night wrestling match with God. The divine assailant wrenched Jacob’s hip out of socket, so that Jacob was left exhausted and with a noticeable limp. Months later, when Jacob massaged his tender hip, I wonder what he reflected on?
Was he filled with regret for his years of deceit that forced this fateful match? The divine messenger had wrestled the truth out of him, refusing to bless him until Jacob owned up to who he was. He confessed he was Jacob, the “heel grabber” (see Genesis 25:26). He’d played tricks on his brother Esau and father-in-law Laban, tripping them to gain advantage. The divine wrestler said Jacob’s new name would be “Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (32:28).
Jacob’s limp represented the death of his old life of deceit and the beginning of his new life with God. The end of Jacob and the start of Israel. His limp led him to lean on God, who now moved powerfully in and through him.
What spiritual scars do you have? How might they symbolize the end of something bad and the start of something new?
Father, my limp is a sign of Your love.
Learn more about finding God in life’s hurts.
The context of Jacob’s mysterious wrestling match (Genesis 32:22-32) is his coming encounter with his brother Esau (vv. 3-6). Because of Jacob’s past treachery (25:29-34; 26:34-27:41), he feared Esau would attack him and his family (32:6-12). Soon after, “a man wrestled with him till daybreak” (v. 24). In other passages of Scripture, when God reveals Himself in human form, people are initially unable to recognize the visitor as more than human (see Genesis 18:1-2; Judges 6:11-22; 13:10, 21-22). But as daybreak dawns, Jacob seems to grow aware that the stranger is more than human, so he clings in hope of blessing (Genesis 32:26-30).