"And Jacob was left alone. 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… Then he said, 'Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.'"
Genesis 32:24-25, 28 (ESV)
Story is a very important tool for Indigenous peoples. Along with stories, we use rituals, traditions, songs, and names to ensure the next generation will thrive as a community.
We all have a story. The people of our history have a story. Humanity has a story. All our stories connect making them a powerful tool. But there is no story as important as God’s.
In Jacob's story, we see a man struggling. He wrestles in the womb with his brother, Esau. He struggles with integrity when he steals his brother’s birthright. He deceives his father when he steals the blessing of the firstborn. He tries to strike a deal with God. He deceives and is deceived by his father-in-law, Laban. Jacob struggles with man and with God throughout his life.
But one night, he finds himself alone with nowhere to run. Exiled from the land of his wives and forced to head straight into the land of a brother who promised to kill him, Jacob wrestles all night with God.
“I have seen God face to face and have been delivered,” he will say. That day, the Lord would bless Jacob and give him a new name, and Jacob would trust in God for the rest of his life.
God’s intervening story informs our stories. So many of our Indigenous peoples are wrestling with God and man. The sins they have committed and those committed against them, the fallen-ness of humanity, addictions, the loss of culture and family values have all left our people struggling.
The Good News is that, in the struggle, God shows up in the face of Christ Jesus and does not prevail against us! Instead, God would prevail against His own Son so we would be blessed with the forgiveness of our sins and given a place in God’s family as His children and a new name in our baptism.
Heavenly Father, thank you for showing up in the struggles of our lives, blessing us with the forgiveness of our sins and giving us life. In your Son’s name, Amen.