“I’ve been blessed by the Hand of God. Though I fail, He blesses anyhow. There are no words to tell just how good God has been. I’ve been blessed, so blessed, blessed beyond measure” - Song: Blessed Beyond Measure
Someone wisely examined that counting blessings when unable to sleep is a much more profitable exercise than counting sheep. We can easily begin to feel slighted and cheated in life when we focus on all the negative and wrong that has come our way. If we would but shift our focus, we would easily see that we have indeed been blessed beyond measure. God has given us so much good in our life, and there is so much to be thankful for.
In college, we were commissioned to keep what was called a “stroke file”. The “stroke file” was a collection of daily index cards which had AM, Noon, and PM on them. At each of these times one blessing in your life had to be written down. You were not to repeat any blessings but they all had to be unique and new. Over time this exercise caused you to be deliberate and thoughtful about what God had really given you in your life.
Of all the blessings God had given us in life, none quite compare to the spiritual blessings. The ones He provides that man can know Him more intimately.
In our story, we have a chosen and blessed man of God, Jacob. Already he has received so many wonderful benefits from God: children, servants, cattle, wealth, etc. He has even received covenant promise from God that God will bless him and be with him.
For Jacob there is still only a distant knowledge of Jehovah. He has definitely grown in his faith, but he is about to face his most challenging life event yet. News has arrived that Esau is coming with four hundred men, and the brothers didn't leave on good terms. Actually, the last time they were together Esau wanted to kill Jacob. In Jacob’s mind, it is clear that Esau means him harm. It is not a matter of will he attack, but when and how much damage will he inflict.
Jacob has divided his household and belongs in an attempt to prevent loss. Remember that God has already promised to prosper him, and is the One who told him to return. Jacob is acting in faith, but in the midst of his faithfulness has some doubt and fear.
God appears to Jacob in the form of a man, and wrestles with Jacob. No doubt, at first Jacob thought this was Esau. While fighting Jacob realizes that this is not Esau but rather God, and Jacob refuses to let Him go. He holds on for dear life, not allowing Him to leave, because he seeks a blessing he has not yet received. At this moment, something completely changes for Jacob. He goes from a man who knew God at a distance, to a man who wanted to know Him intimately. God blesses him, and gives Jacob two physical signs that everything would be different from that point forward. God changes his name to Israel, and God gives him a limp. For the rest of Israel’s life, his name and limp would remind him that he belonged to God, and God was his God.
God has already blessed you in more ways than you deserve. If you don’t believe me, just do a “stoke file”. But maybe it is time to “wrestle” with God in prayer, and come to the place Jacob did: “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” Not with monetary gain, popularity, or position, but with His presence.
Daily Scripture Reading
Genesis 32 - 34
(Follow this Scripture Reading Plan to accompany this devotion and read through your Bible in a year)
“And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”