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But you promised
Sarah Habben
by Sarah Habben
August 11, 2023

When I’m overwhelmed, I sometimes wish God would pull up a chair and advise me.

Jacob had reason to feel that way too. He was following God’s command to head home to Canaan after 20 years in exile. But Jacob’s estranged twin, Esau, who had sworn to kill Jacob, was now coming to meet him. With 400 men. Jacob figured this wasn’t a welcoming party. 

So Jacob began a sleepless night, wrestling with God in prayer. But he didn’t pray, “God, please tell me what to do!” Instead, he prayed, “I am afraid . . . but you have promised” (Genesis 32:11,12 paraphrase).

When I fear what tomorrow will bring, I need God’s promises. They break through the dark cloud of the future like rays of sunshine: promises to forgive, to provide, to bless.

In the middle of Jacob’s internal struggle, God suddenly appeared. But he didn’t pull up a chair—he pulled Jacob into a headlock! They wrestled all night, until finally God dislocated Jacob’s hip. Jacob hung on, saying, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26). God blessed him. And Jacob limped off to meet his brother, weaker in body but stronger in faith.  

When my fears grapple with God’s promises, the process can hurt. But I learn God is not hiding. He speaks to me in his Word, feeds me with his Holy Supper, washes me in Baptism. He wrestles down my doubts, teaching me that hardship is not a reason to let go of God. Sometimes God allows me to limp so that my faith can grow.