Smackdown

roughhousing photo
Photo by Sharon Mollerus

We like to wrestle in our family. We call it roughhousing, and it usually involves the older kids jumping and diving on me, but our youngest even gets involved sometimes. There’s an axiom that we always remind our children about when we do it though: All good roughhousing ends in tears.

Inevitably, someone bonks their head or bangs an elbow or stubs a toe. Crying ensues, and we know it’s time to end the game. We hug, comfort, eventually settle down, and then it’s on to other activities.

I wonder what Jacob expected from his wrestling match. The story is recorded in Genesis 32:

And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Genesis 32:24b-25

Now, I’ve never experienced a dislocated hip, but I can’t imagine it’s a good feeling, especially if it happens while wrestling with someone all night long. But Jacob doesn’t disintegrate into a puddle of tears. Instead, he holds on tighter and questions this strange man. Jacob new there was something supernatural going on.

Jacob came out of this cosmic wrestling match with a new name and a new trajectory for his life. Jacob, now known as Israel, would go on to have 12 sons and become the namesake for God’s people. This event would linger in his memory for the rest of his life.

Every time his hip ached, or he limped around, or someone called him Israel, he would remember this struggle with God and the blessing that God gave
that day.

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