It is What It Is (part 2)

By Alan Wright — February 08, 2019

Are you ready for some good news?

Though we’re tempted to “be in control,” we actually aren’t – God is. And that’s good news because trying to control what you can’t control is an exercise in frustration.

Today’s Text: “Then he said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.’” (Genesis 32:28, ESV)

No Old Testament character’s life more vividly illustrates controlling behaviors than that of Jacob. He came into the world grasping his older twin brother’s heel and spent most of his life trying to wrestle a blessed life for himself. Then one night, he literally wrestled.

It was the night before Jacob would reunite with the brother he’d cheated out of his inheritance. Jacob had no idea how Esau would receive him. Jacob was all alone. Suddenly, a mysterious figure began wrestling with him. They wrestled until daybreak. The mysterious representative of God finally dislocated Jacob’s hip and then changed Jacob’s name to Israel.

Some years ago I meditated on this new name of Jacob’s. I was curious because Jacob likely means “struggles with people,” and Israel sounds like “struggles with God.” Either way - Jacob was still a struggler; what kind of blessing is that? 

Here it is: Wouldn’t it bring sweet liberty to shift your struggle from trying to solve your problems by controlling people to knowing you could take your struggles to God?

God was essentially saying: From now on Jacob, you will be free from trying to wrestle blessing out of the world and out of people around you; always having to have the upper hand; trying to please people, deceive people, manipulate people. Your liberty will be in this: You will bring your problems and frustrations, needs and longings, sadness and dreams to Me. That will define who you are, and My people also will be called Israel.

The controlling spirit is always wrestling, never content. But, by the Gospel’s power, you are set free to trust the infinite goodness of God. He was for you before you ever knew Him. He is constantly, eternally, powerfully advocating for you at every moment. You don’t have to “control” your life; God’s in charge. So you can rest and have joy. And that’s the Gospel!

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