As I think about all that we have been through lately, the struggles, the pain and agony of our hearts, and the promises of God becoming more real than ever, I am reminded of the story of Jacob found in the Book of Genesis. It is an incredible story, very bizarre, but all together true.
Jacob is one of my wife’s favorite Old Testament people simply because we learn through him about God’s sovereignty in choosing people to follow Him. I mean, talk about a clear picture of realizing that there is nothing that a person can do to earn salvation and favor with God. He gives it based on His choosing, not ours. Jacob was a mess of trouble right from the beginning. He did so many things wrong. He lied. He cheated. He stole. He deceived. Yet, the God of the universe chose to reveal Himself to Jacob in some of the most amazing ways that man has ever encountered God. So, seeing how Jacob was still chosen by God makes us realize that God does not choose us based on how good we are. This is comforting to truly know.
Anyway, Genesis gives us the account of when Jacob is said to have wrestled with God. He had lived much of his life already and, like I said, had done a lot of deceitful things. but God still revealed Himself to Jacob in profound ways and reminded him of incredible promises.
So, Jacob wrestles with God alone for a night. He was preparing to meet up with his brother Esau the next day and he was terribly afraid that Esau was going to want to kill him because of some major deception from many years ago. So, Jacob, still being a crafty guy in both good and bad ways, had sent tons of gifts on ahead to Esau in hopes of basically buying him off. And he stayed behind everybody else perhaps in hopes of sparing his life. But the Lord still chose to meet him.
Jacob was said to wrestle with “a man” all through the night until daybreak. The man asked Jacob to let him go, but Jacob said that he wouldn’t let the man go until he blessed him. So, the “man” seeing that Jacob would not relent, touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the “man.” Jacob then received the blessing from the “man”, which most likely was God, who stated to Jacob that his new name would be Israel because he has struggled with God and man and has overcome. But Jacob left that encounter with a limp. And possibly that limp stayed with him for the rest of his life.
What was the purpose of that limp? I think that the purpose was to serve as a reminder of how Jacob encountered God and received a blessing from Him that changed his life. Did the limp ever cause pain? I think anytime there is a limp, there is some degree of pain involved. Perhaps Jacob’s limp was worse on certain days more so than others, like someone today with joint problems. The cold weather often causes greater pain than the warmer weather. But Jacob’s hip was also to serve as a testimony. When his grandchildren asked him, “Grandpa, why do you walk with a limp?”, I’m sure that he was able to tell them of the time that he met God and was forever changed.
And so, just like Jacob, I have been wrestling with God as I work through the pain and agony of my heart over the loss of my beloved little girl. My hip has been touched and now I limp with great pain. And I will limp forever. I’m sure that the pain will subside somewhat over time, just like most injuries, but it will forever be there as a reminder and a testimony.
It will remind me that God has met me in a profound way. And truthfully, I don’t even yet fully understand what profound way that is, but I do know that the Lord is in the midst of my struggle and pain and that He has a great purpose for it. And that limp will also serve as a reminder to me that I’m not home yet, that there will come a day when I am brought into the presence of Jesus where I will walk freely without pain and without limping. But now, my limp reminds me that there are indeed greater things that are yet to come.
And this limp will also enable me to testify to the world as it says in 2 Cor. 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.” Yes, may the world see me limping, but limping forward, continuing to praise the name of Jesus, continuing to make His name and truth known to all who care to listen, and continuing to hold on to His great and precious promises of a heavenly home that awaits those who trust in Him alone.
Yes, my hip has been wrenched by God. And it hurts now more than ever. Yesterday, it was really cold outside. My hip really hurt. I cried so hard while I was driving that I had to pull over because I could not see through my tears. I pulled over and just wailed. I had passed a lake as I was crying and I felt for certain that the lake was not big enough to hold all my tears. I felt that there were more tears falling from my eyes than the cold hard rain that was falling from the sky. And I just balled. My hip hurt really bad yesterday. But then, I was able to wipe my tears away, walk into a meeting where I was doing a short video to promote “Shoes for Haiti” and move forward in what God has called me to do in proclaiming the goodness of God through our work with the orphans and the poor in Haiti. And that’s how it will be from now on. By His grace, I will walk forward, but now I will always walk with a limp.
Today, I’m thankful that it looks sunny outside…