Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” … And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” Genesis 32:24-30
I have felt hopeless, afraid, and alone in a barren land. I have wrestled with God. Have you? According to Matthew Henry, the great Bible commentator, “Wrestling believers may obtain glorious victories, and yet come off with broken bones; for when they are weak then are they strong, weak in themselves, but strong in Christ, 2 Co. 12:10.”
Since I was about 8-years-old, I wanted a deep intimacy with the Lord. Through the years, that longing became the deer panting for the water brooks, Psalm 42:1.
Fibromyalgia was my path to the water brooks.
I lived with pain and illness for most of my life, but in the late 1990s, my health declined rapidly, and the doctors did not know why. In 2001, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, a complex chronic pain disorder. On many days, I felt like a Mac truck had run over me.
At first, I asked “Why?” Then, I asked, “What sin have I done that is responsible for this?” Later, “Why is my faith so weak?”
No answers came, and I decided that this season was sent to me to teach me something, to refine me. I believed that my purpose was to blossom where I was planted—in pain and fatigue. As a result, I accepted my situation and found the blessing in the pain.
Yes, there is blessing in pain. Through this season, my husband, Keith, demonstrated his deep love for me as a patient and gentle caregiver. He offered selfless service with no expectations of me.
In addition, there was that sweet peace in the middle of the night when I lay on the sofa in pain, reading and praying the Psalms.
In 2008, Keith and I read Christ the Healer, and we began to consume the Scriptures on healing and the story of Abraham and Sarah. We became convinced that the Lord was going to heal me for a work that He had planned before the foundation of the world. Keith even told me that he would preach a sermon WHEN the Lord healed me.
In 2010, my health declined to the point that I was considering disability and possibly resigning from the work that I believed that the Lord had for me. In the depths of my pain and fatigue, the Lord miraculously healed me. This healing was confirmed by my doctor, and I am no longer taking fibromyalgia medication.
Jacob obeyed the Lord by returning to his homeland, but he heard that his brother, Esau, was coming to meet him with 400 men. Jacob had tricked Esau into selling his birthright and then stole his blessing and he was afraid of what Esau might do, so he cried out to the Lord, reminding God that he was obeying Him and that He had promised to bless Jacob and his household.
After that prayer, Jacob wrestled with God all night and wouldn’t let go until God had blessed him. God touched his hip socket and his hip was dislocated, but God also blessed him and changed Jacob’s name to Israel, for his spiritual nature changed at that instant.
In the two years between the time that Keith and I were promised that I would be healed, we wrestled with God until all our strength was depleted. When there was no chance that neither the doctors nor I could make my condition better, I gave up and told the Lord that all I wanted was more of Him. God touched my body, healed me, blessed Keith and me, and enabled me to do the work He had planned for me to accomplish.
That moment of healing defined a new direction in my spiritual and physical journey.
Defining moments have helped to shape my body, spirit, and soul. These moments were not random, but rather, they were created specifically for me–to direct my path, my hope, my love, and my faith.
As I have listened deeply to my defining moments, I have prayed intensely, learned to love passionately, and I hope to bless widely.
My prayer for you:
Gracious Father, bless this dear reader with Your perfect peace and blessings. May this fellow heir to the Kingdom recognize the defining moments You have sent this child of Yours, and bestow Your great and precious promises upon this reader.