“Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.’”
– Genesis 32:28
Happy New Year! I’m a firm believer in setting my mind and focusing my attention on my goals, which at this time of year is commonly called making resolutions. Though many of us partake in this January ritual, the truth is that few of us will make it beyond February. To understand more about the reason why, I want to turn your attention to the nation of Israel, more specifically to their name. Did you know that Israel actually means “struggles with God?” The name is taken from a specific account in the book of Genesis in which Jacob wrestled with the Lord’s angel and was renamed Israel. We’ll talk more about that later, but for today, I want to point out the bizarre irony that Yahweh’s chosen people are called to wrestle — not with their enemies or with evil — but with Him. As strange as it sounds, the truth is that any deep and meaningful relationship requires a struggle.
Remember this truth as you embrace your new year’s resolutions, my friend, specifically in the area of deepening connections with others. Struggle is an inseparable part of relationship, whether with God, your spouse, your friends, or your family members. No matter how hard it gets, keep wrestling and fighting for the people who are most valuable to you and don’t stop before the brawl becomes an embrace. Whatever the challenge, refuse to let go and don’t give up until you see the promise come to fulfillment and you stand firmly in the bountiful blessings of perseverance.
Help me to embrace struggle this year, Jesus, in the relationships that are most valuable to me, and give me your grace and wisdom as I do.
What struggles are you engaged in right now? Do you find comfort in knowing that they are part of your promised blessing?