Many times we want what we don’t need and need what we don’t want. Thankfully, God doesn’t generally give us what we want but don’t need. Instead, He gives us what we need but don’t want.
He knows what’s best for us.
We want comfort, but God gives us pain. We want assurance, but God gives us uncertainty. We want peace, but God gives us trouble. We want strength, but God gives us weakness.
Jacob found this out.
Here was a man who was able to make things happen. He was smart and savvy. He knew how to work the angles. He got the birthright. He got the blessing. He got his lady. Business took off. The flocks increased. His pot enlarged.
But all Jacob’s trickery finally caught up with him. Those he had swindled were out for revenge. His father-in-law Laban chased him from one side and his long-estranged twin brother, Esau, was coming at him with four hundred men from the other. He was caught in the middle with no way out.
He’s now alone at the ford of Jabbok. The name Jabbok literally means “to pour out, to empty.” Jacob was going to be emptied, spent, poured out.
God comes to him incognito at the midnight hour and wrestles him all night. Beats him to a pulp. Jacob cries out. He asks for God’s favor. “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” (Genesis 32:26).
What does God do?
He bruises him. He knocks Jacob’s hip out of joint.
Jacob wants God’s blessing. He wants protection. Deliverance. Wisdom. Courage. So God breaks him. He walks with a limp the rest of his life.
What’s the lesson? God heals us by humbling us. He cures his patients by crushing them.
“Him that God would use greatly He hurts deeply.” (A.W. Tozer)
More than anything else, we need humility. We may think we need God to do this or that, but most of the time we need simply one thing.
Hailed church father, St. Augustine (354-430), wrote: “Should any one interrogate me concerning the rules of the Christian religion, the first, second, and third, I would always reply, Humility.” Andrew Murray in his classic, Humility, echoed Augustine, “Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue. And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil.”
God doesn’t humble us because, like some angry tyrant, He takes pleasure in our groveling. He humbles us because He wants us to be happy. And we are as happy as we are free—free of our self-reliance, pride, and independent spirit.
Walking with a limp may not be what you want, but it’s what you and I need. To be happy.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
(2 Corinthians 12:8-9)