By now we have come to know Jacob as a guy with more guts and grit than most people. But the scene in the Bible that probably tells me the most about Jacob’s character is the wrestle between him and the angel (Genesis 32).

Who does that? Even Jacob himself admits that he thought he would die. “Jacob named the place Peniel (which means ‘face of God’), for he said, ‘I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared’” (Genesis 32:30, NLT). Once Jacob declared that he would not stop wrestling with the heavenly being until he received a blessing, there was only one way forward. He had to fake it. Whether he believed he could win or not, he had to continue wrestling. And this time he made it. Well, sort of.

I think the reason why Jacob kept on wrestling was that he knew he was a dead man either way. There was no turning back. The heavenly being dislocated Jacob’s hip by merely touching it (Genesis 32:25). Jacob knew very well who the real Winner was. But I am sure that he still wore his limp and new name with reverence afterward. “‘Your name will no longer be Jacob,’ the man told him. ‘From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won’” (v. 28, NLT).

In the New Testament, another friend of God suffered from a dash of overconfidence. When Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him, Peter refused to accept it. “‘No!’ Peter insisted. ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!’” (Matthew 26:35, NLT). But like Jacob, Peter’s life was touched by God’s mercy.

God is not intimidated or offended by our little ego tantrums here on earth. He knows exactly where our limitations are. And it may serve us well to remember them as well. “For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust” (Psalms 103:14, NLT).

Do you sometimes overestimate your own capabilities? Do you find it difficult to deal with your human limitations and weaknesses?

Let us find confidence in our true Source of power. And let us not be ashamed of receiving mercy in Christ. We don’t have to fake it until we don’t make it. “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16, NLT).

Scripture readings:

Genesis 32:22-32

Matthew 26:31-35

Psalms 103:8-17

Hebrews 4:14-16