(A Meditation on Genesis 32)
Like Jacob, we bring our past (the pain, the failures, and the guilt) into the present.
We bring our future (the fears, the anxieties, and the Esaus of our lives) into the present.
We bring the world and its pain into our present, and we wrestle with them all.
But real victory only comes when we bring these things into the presence of God and we wrestle with him (like the Psalmist—e.g. Psalm 13). As we wrestle with God—bringing our questions, our anger, our guilt, our fear—only then do these things move from our head to our heart, from thinking to feeling, from understanding to experiencing. Only then do we begin to overcome, only then do blessings begin to emerge for us and for our world. Only then can we, like Jacob, rise up and meet our Esau.
And God’s immediate gift for Jacob is a new name, Israel, ‘he who struggles with God’. It’s not very different from the old one, Jacob. He is still the one who ‘holds on’ (Genesis 25:26), but this time he’s holding on to God. And not from behind anymore but face to face, bringing all of himself into God’s powerful, caring presence.