We read in Genesis 32 that Jacob was going to meet his brother Esau in the country of Edom. When Jacob had last seen Esau, Esau had been very angry and had stated that he would kill Jacob once their father Isaac was dead (Gen. 27:41). This was due to the fact that Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob many years earlier and that Isaac, their father, had then given Jacob his blessing. This had made Esau very upset with Jacob and in Gen. 32, Jacob is understandably nervous about meeting his brother again, even after a long absence. He prays to God for protection against his brother Esau, who he fears will kill him and his household. Jacob knows that God had made a promise to Abraham and Isaac (his grandfather and father) that their descendants would become like the sand of the sea, and he reminds God of this promise in his prayer. “But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’” Jacob was holding firmly to the promise that he would prosper, even while fearing Esau at the same time.
That night, Jacob wrestles with an angel and does not let go even when the angel asks him to. Jacob says, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Gen. 32:26). It is then that the angel tells Jacob that his new name is Israel and blesses him. Even though the promise had already been given to his forefathers, Jacob himself wanted the blessing to be given to him as well, as a type of assurance. Jacob felt that he would not be fit to meet Esau the next day unless he had that blessing. It wasn’t that God didn’t want to give him the blessing or that Jacob wrestled the blessing out of the angel against God’s wishes, but rather that Jacob showed his true need for God’s blessing. Jacob struggled through the night which showed that he truly felt a need for God’s promise in his life and after the long struggle, God saw fit that the angel would give the blessing Jacob desired to receive. The blessing was the promise that Jacob and his descendants would prosper.
So in our lives, we should strive to “not grow weary and lose heart,” as stated in Hebrews 12:3. In all of our struggles, we should continually show God that we also have faith in His promises and that even though we live in this night of sin, we know that a glorious morning is coming when we will no longer cry, mourn or be in pain (Psalm 30:5; Revelation 21:4). “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:36).