So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak . . . So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” Genesis 32:24,30
Jacob had sent his servants, his livestock, and even his wives and children ahead of him. Many years earlier, Jacob had twice taken advantage of his twin brother Esau—manipulating him to acquire his birthright and then deceiving their father to receive the firstborn’s blessing. Now Esau was coming to meet Jacob.
Whatever his motivation, Jacob was alone, as he had been when he was running away from Esau’s wrath and You, God, appeared to him at Bethel (see Genesis 28:10–22). The clamor of cattle and children, dueling wives and the general everyday chaos grew distant. Jacob was left in silence to wrestle with his thoughts. To rehash past mistakes—and regrets. To remember the undeserved promise of blessing You had made to him at Bethel.
And the fight began. This time, quite literally, as a mysterious “man” came and wrestled with Jacob all night long—a physical embodiment of the mental and spiritual turmoil Jacob had experienced with You most of his life. Jacob fought with all his might to receive a blessing already promised him. And it was granted.
Like Jacob, my life is often filled with people and pursuits that distract me just enough to ignore the battle with You raging in my heart. When I still the noise and steal away to meet You face to face, I am finally free to confront my deepest fears and misgivings, even about You. You aren’t afraid to take on my honesty. In fact, it’s through face-to-face engagement that I begin to experience the blessing that was meant to be mine all along.