Imagine, you’re on your way to your hometown, a place you haven’t seen in decades. You have your family with you—the family you’ve raised while living in refuge somewhere else. They’ve never seen the place where you grew up. On your way, you get word that your older brother—the one who tried to kill you last time you saw him, the reason you left home in the first place—is coming to meet you. He’s coming to meet you, and he has an army with him.

This is Jacob’s situation the night his name is changed. Having sent his family on across the river, Jacob is alone. Night is falling fast, and there is much to be feared. In this place, God shows up, and wrestles with Jacob. Jacob prevails. And then (I love this part!), God names Jacob, and the people of God who will descend from him—Israel. A name that means, “The one who strives with God.”

Relationship with God means wrestling with God. It means pushing, arguing, sharpening each other as iron sharpens iron. During this Lenten journey, we are invited to wrestle with who God is, and whom we are called to become.

Embolden us as people of faith to wrestle with you, O Lord. Let us feel this Lent how seeking and striving bring us closer to you, and to your Kingdom. Amen.

Erin Hastey, Grad Student at LCM

The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.”

-Genesis 32:22,28