Jacob and his family move from place to place in Canaan, finally arriving in Bethel, where God had first appeared to him.
Now that Jacob had returned from Paddan-aram, God appeared to him again at Bethel. God blessed him, saying, “Your name is Jacob, but you will not be called Jacob any longer. From now on your name will be Israel.” So God renamed him Israel.
God reminded Jacob of his new name, Israel, which means “one who struggles with God” (see Genesis 32:22-32). Jacob’s life was littered with difficulties and trials, but his new name reflected his desire to stay close to God despite life’s disappointments.
Many people believe that Jesus promises a problem-free life. Consequently, as life gets tough, they become disappointed and retreat from faith in God. Has God failed?
Jesus actually warned his followers that they would face hard times: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” But Jesus offered them hope, too: “Take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Instead of hoping for a problem-free life, followers of Jesus should hold on to God through life’s struggles. Problems and difficulties are painful but inevitable. Perhaps, as in Jacob’s case, they are actually struggles with God. These can be opportunities for growth. Troubles give us a chance to trust God. They are opportunities for faith. They are opportunities for God to work in your life.
What struggles are you facing today? If life is going well, how are you deepening your trust in God for when life brings new challenges? Whether life is easy or hard, how can you hold on to God?