"PRELUDE TO A BLESSING"
BY
RANDALL J. BREWER

For quite some time now I've been meditating on the story of Jacob and his wrestling match with God. Gen. 32:28 tells us that he struggled with God and prevailed and I believe that if we also want to prevail in life and come out on top then we likewise have to enter into a struggle with God. Like Jacob we need to grab hold onto God and His promises and not let go until we receive the full manifestation of that promise. There is, however, one aspect of this story that I have pondered for quite a while and was unable to discover the reason for or the significance thereof until now.
The Lord has enlightened me considerably with some further insight into this remarkable event in the life of Jacob that I want to discuss with you now. Let's take a moment and focus on Jacob's limp. After a long night of struggling with God, the heavenly agent whom Jacob held on so tightly to touched his hip and threw it out of joint. For the rest of his life Jacob walked with a limp because of his wrestling match with God. Why did this happen? Was Jacob getting the best of his visitor so the angel had to do this in order to get the advantage? Of course not! The ole boy had wrestled all night and was near exhaustion as it was. So what was the reason for Jacob's limp?

First of all, we know Jacob wanted to get blessed. He said with bold determination, "I will not let you go until you bless me!" What happened next? The blessing? No, the limp! Jacob received his limp before he received his blessing. Remember that. Next, let's analyze what it means to have a limp. It means that you will always need someone or something to lean on and you will also have a struggle doing what you want to do. I believe the meaning of Jacob's limp is that if you want to walk in the blessings of God then you will have to learn to lean on Him because many struggles will come your way.

Forget the idea that being blessed by God means you're on a beach somewhere drinking pineapple juice as you swing on a hammock between two palm trees. My friend, this is not reality. We are in a war and being saved does not mean you will live on "Easy Street." Jesus said to "count the cost" and He told Peter you could receive a hundred-fold return on your giving "with persecutions." There's the struggle. The decision we all must make is whether or not we want to confront these struggles in order to walk in the blessing of God.
Contrary to what the misinformed may believe, receiving the blessings of God is not a joy ride in the park. It's a journey into a war zone where strength and endurance will be needed with each step you take. Every morning Jacob had to lean on a cane when he got out of bed. It was a struggle to get from one place to the next. But...the man was blessed! Experience teaches us that the rewards of getting blessed by God far exceed whatever struggle you may go through if, that is, you are willing to pay the price. And what price is that? You must learn to lean on God and not the arm of the flesh. Success is not free nor is it cheap. Indeed, there is a price to pay for success.

We all need to realize that success is born out of adversity. Tests, trials, and oftentimes failure come to all who believe. When they do, a decision must be made as to what your attitude will be in the midst of these afflictions. Do roadblocks signal the end of your journey or are they stepping stones that lead to a place that is "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph. 3:20)? Success that is birthed as a result of tests and trials can be compared to a farmer putting manure in a cornfield before the planting season begins. As manure is used to fertilize the soil so the seeds can grow, so do tests and trials help develop within us that special character trait that causes us to never give up and press on in the good fight of faith.
It will also help to realize that adversity is the devil's response to your progress and this is why James 1:2-4 instructs us to "count it all joy" when tests and trials come our way. Paul gives us the assurance that "if God be for us, who can be against us?" In Christ we always win if we don't quit. As wonderful as the blessings of God are, it is a certainty that these blessings are not for the faint hearted. God said in Ps. 89:19, "I have given help to one who is mighty..." and the book of James tells us that the unstable and double-minded man should not "suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord."

If a struggle comes your way, rise up above it and know that you and God are stronger than anything the devil throws at you. Remember, Jacob's limp came before his blessing. Likewise, the cross came before the empty tomb. Any struggle can rightfully be called a "prelude to a blessing." It's always darkest just before the dawn. If you are in a struggle then hold on tight like Jacob did because a blessing is on the way. Hallelujah! Every time something goes wrong use your faith and focus on the blessing that is sure to follow. The difference between losers and winners is that losers focus on the limp whereas winners always focus on the blessing.

This is the key to having a victorious life. Rejoice over the fact that your cup is half full instead of complaining that it's half empty. With this attitude you'll breeze through anything the devil throws your way. Anything! Just don't lose your focus. Yes, the struggles will be there. They will always be there. Jacob's limp never went away and Paul had his "thorn in the flesh." But thank God, His grace is sufficient for us! It's true, the more you focus on something the bigger it gets. Little molehills turn into giant mountains when all you do is focus on them. The same applies to the blessings of God. Wimps focus on limps whereas overcomers focus on the blessings.

Jacob was tired and exhausted but when he spoke he focused on the blessing. He said, "I will not let You go until You bless me." Also, nowhere in scripture does it say he ever spoke one word about his limp. Wimps with limps always gripe and complain about their problems. They say "woe is me!" and by doing so their struggle gets bigger and bigger. But winners are different. They see the light at the end of the tunnel and they focus on the prize at the end of the race. Winners focus on the blessing and if we will do the same then the blessings will flow into our lives on the crest of every wave.
In life, circumstances rarely go as we'd like but in Jesus we can rise up above it. Being blessed does not mean you will have no more struggles. Jacob still had his limp. Being blessed does mean you can rise up above your trials and live on a higher plane than where your problems are. The good news is that once the blessing is manifested the pains of your struggle is quickly forgotten. Jesus said in John 16:21, "A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world." The key is to focus on the blessing and not the struggle. So go ahead. Rise up and be blessed!

RANDALL J. BREWER

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