Imagine the anger of Esau as he said this to himself: “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob” (Gen. 27:41b).
Jacob, his twin brother, had deceived their father, Isaac. He had put on Esau’s clothes, covered his smooth arms with animal skin to mimic Esau’s hairy arms, and prepared food the way Isaac wanted – a task that Isaac specifically gave Esau to do prior to the blessing. The firstborn’s right of blessing that was meant for Esau went to the thieving, conniving Jacob (read Gen. 27).
No matter how much Esau wept and pleaded for any similar blessing, Isaac could only bless him with what was left to give: a pronouncement that Esau’s dwelling would be away from the earth’s riches; that Esau would live by the sword and serve Jacob. The only consolation in that blessing was that Esau would grow restless from his brother’s yoke and throw it from off his neck. To think that Esau had earlier sold Jacob his birthright for a pot of stew! Couldn’t Jacob have given him what was rightfully his –his father’s blessing?
God was watching everything.
Jacob fled Esau’s wrath and went to Padam Aram, the land of his mother. There, God allowed him to experience deceit—this time as the recipient of deceit. Jacob worked seven years to marry the woman of his dreams, only to be given a different girl on his wedding night. He had to work an extra seven years for the wife that he DID want! The Bible also says that his father-in-law, Laban, changed his wages ten times.
When it was finally time to leave Padam Aram, Jacob knew it was time to reckon with his past. Going back home to Canaan meant going back to where Esau was. Did his brother forgive him? Did his brother still want to kill him?
On the night before meeting Esau, Jacob struggled with God. The Bible says that he wrestled with a strange, powerful man—a man whose name he didn’t know. He may have deceived his father once to get a blessing; this time, it was going to be different. He was going to earn the blessing!
This strange man—so unbelievably strong– wrestled with Jacob the whole night, touching his hip so that it dislocated painfully. Jacob cried out: “I will not let you go until you bless me!”
It was a desperate cry. Jacob was coming back to a place that was painfully “home”; wrestling with the the pain of being both deceived and deceiver; wrestling with the possibility that he might never be restored back into the kindness of a family member; wrestling with the thought that he, his wives, and his children might be killed. Who was he—who was Jacob–really? The struggle in his heart translated to the ferocity of his arms.
The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28).
Jacob then realized who it was exactly whom he was dealing with. “…I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared” (Genesis 32:30).
It is important that we see an important truth:the Lord had to confront and wound Jacob to heal Jacob. What could Jacob have felt before wrestling with God? Fear? Intimidation? Guilt? Shame? Resentment? Really– how could he go back home and face that which he had been running away from? When God hurt the hip of Jacob, God was essentially putting a finger to a wound, saying: “It is time for your legs to stop running, Jacob, my son. It is time to face your wounds.”
And here we must assess ourselves: Are we willing to have God confront us in our weakness, even if it means having Him touch the most painful areas of our hearts?
The Lord’s heart for us is that we be healed completely from our wounds. The only way for that is if we allow Him to touch us in the places that have hurt us deeply.
We can ask ourselves: what situations have we been running away from? Whom have we been running away from? If the Lord wounds us, it is only because He wants to heal us completely.
When Jacob finally came face to face with Esau, he said something that ONLY AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD COULD HAVE ALLOWED HIM TO SAY. He said to Esau, “…to see your face is like seeing the face of God…” (Genesis 33:10b).
How many of us can say that to the people whom we have been estranged from? To those whom we have hurt? To those who have a history of hating us? Can we see the face of God in those who are our enemies?
Forgiveness and restoration can still happen to the most broken of relationships. However, we must ask ourselves: are we able to go beyond offense and see the beauty of God in the lives of those whom we have hurt and who have hurt us the most? God is working in them, just as He is working in us. Dare we go beyond the fights, the pain, the anger, and the fear, to see how much God loves that person?
These are tough questions. But they are necessary questions.
An encounter with God should bring us face to face with our Healer. Only in Him can we experience healing from the wounds of a past. And only in Him will we be able to see His face in another
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.