Is it all small children, or just my grand-monkeys that love play fighting? The boys in particular know exactly what to do with a couple of sticks they find, and joy of joys when Uncle comes home and gives them a good run for their money. Watch out furniture! Of course he could easily defeat them, but he wrestles at their level: lots of fun, and hopefully nobody gets really hurt, just one exhausted uncle and three excited, well-exercised small bodies!
In Genesis 32:24-29, Jacob was wrestling with ‘the man’ who was God. This man did not want to really hurt Jacob, any more than the children’s uncle. For him, this was nothing more than play-fighting; and since Jacob would not desist, he put him out of action temporarily. I think God was pleased with Jacob’s tenacity. He was teaching him to use his spiritual muscles by exercising them to the full.
The result? Jacob got his prized blessing. He also got a new name. ‘Israel’ translates as ‘struggles with God’; but the man told him it was because “because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome”. He was an overcomer. Overcomer. That’s a wonderful name for someone about to face the challenge of a lifetime.
He also got a sore hip – but most people reckon it was only temporary; and it’s not referred to later as causing him any difficulties. The pain was well worth the gain of a name like ‘Overcomer’.
And the best news is that we, too, have that name. 1 John 4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” And Jesus took the pain for that. Overcomer. That’s you!