In the Old Testament, we see that God appeared to different people in different ways. To Abraham, the traveler, God came as a traveler. To Joshua, the military commander, God came as the Commander of the Lord’s armies. And to the fighting, conniving, and resisting Jacob, God came as a wrestler.
In the latter example, there was an unresolved issue in Jacob’s life. He had just left Laban, the mega-deceiver, and now he had to go back home and deal with Esau, the brother he had cheated out of a birthright some 20 years earlier.
Jacob had nowhere to go but forward. But forward was where Esau was.
It was time for Jacob to deal with his past and the wrongs he had committed. He was about to discover the hard way the truth of Proverbs 18:19: “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city” (nkjv).
That is not to say that we shouldn’t try, for we indeed should. But sometimes we just can’t reconcile with certain people. The Bible even gives us this allowance: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18 nkjv, emphasis mine).
Some people just don’t want to be reconciled. They don’t want to be forgiven, and they don’t want to forgive.
The Lord knew Jacob was afraid, so He appeared to him in a special way. Genesis 32:1-2 tells us, “So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, ‘This is God’s camp.’ And he called the name of that place Mahanaim” (nkjv).
What was Jacob’s need at this moment? Protection. He was afraid. He didn’t have an army. He didn’t have any way to defend himself.
So God sent him a host of angels to reassure him. “Mahanaim” means “two camps.” There was Jacob’s camp, and there was God’s camp. God was saying, “You are not alone. I am here with you.”
So what did Jacob do? Genesis 32:7 tells us, “So Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies” (nkjv).
It sounds like Jacob lived by the adage, “God helps those who help themselves.” The truth is that God helps those who can’t help themselves. This is what Jacob needed to realize. He couldn’t do it in his own strength, but God was with him. He would be okay.
Even so, in an effort to appease Esau, Jacob sent his servants ahead with gifts of goats, sheep, camels, and donkeys. Next he sent his entourage, but Jacob himself stayed behind.
The Bible tells us, “Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day” (Genesis 32:24 nkjv). Obviously an army of angels had not been enough to comfort Jacob. So the Lord himself made an appearance to him. This shows us that God meets us wherever we are in order to lift us to where He wants us to be.
Maybe you can relate to Jacob. Perhaps you recently have come face-to-face with the repercussions of a bad decision you made in life, possibly years ago. Now you are afraid of what will happen.
Know this: regardless of what you have done, God will help you. I am not saying you won’t reap the consequences, but I am saying that you won’t reap them alone. Even so, you must come face to face with it.
If it is possible to make restitution, then do it. If you need to ask forgiveness, then do so. If reconciliation needs to take place, then seek it out. Do the right thing in the right way before God.
Or perhaps there is something you want from God, such as the salvation of your husband, wife, parents, or children. Maybe you are tired of being single and have asked God for a husband or wife. Maybe you want to get involved in ministry and are looking for an opportunity.
Don’t resort to conniving. God wants to do His will in His way in His timing.
God’s provision comes to us just when it is needed — not too little and not too late. God anticipates our need and provides His grace right when we need it.Whatever the circumstance or emergency, He will be there for you, because He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 nkjv).
Out of their long and painful journey has come a really helpful survival guide, so to speak. It’s a book called Suffer Strong: How to Survive Anything by Redefining Everything. It’s not just an inspiring story of triumph through trials but a how-to book for accepting God’s plan and recognizing His providence even when it feels like your world is shattered.