When I was largely pregnant with my first son, we had a chimney fire in our house. Something had gone wrong in the night with our oil furnace, the chimney clogged up, and it caught fire. We were awakened by a pet that was upset about the smoke filling the house (the smoke detectors went off a minute later). My husband, a volunteer firefighter at the time, ran to see what was happening and to call 911. I wrapped our toddler daughter in a blanket and ran to the neighbor’s house. I pounded on the door, and they answered quickly, assuming that I was in labor. We were all beside ourselves as the fire department arrived.
Twenty years later, this event in our lives, once so big, daunting, wild, is now just an anecdote we share. The firefighters punched holes in our kitchen ceiling to check that the fire hadn’t spread, and much of the downstairs was covered in a light layer of soot. Once the claims were filed, the damage repaired, and the baby born, it began to fade in its importance.
I tell you this story because sometimes we need to be reminded that the big things that scare us now might someday be just another day in our life story.
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 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 32:24-28, NIV)
Jacob wrestled with God all night, which must have been an intense struggle. But it no doubt faded in light of the blessing that God then bestowed. We can get lost in the fight, especially when it feels like we’ve been struggling for way too long. We can’t always see that our struggle is what He’s using to grow our faith, to show us how He provides and comforts. We want the hard days to end quickly, and we pray to just get through it. But we also can pray that He uses the hard days for our benefit and ask Him to help us not miss the growth that comes with it.