Good afternoon and Merry belated Christmas! If you are someone you know is struggling through this holiday season, I urge you to visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/call, you can also call 1-800-273-8255. You can also use the online chat service through the website provide. Both the phone line and the chat service are monitored 24/7, there will always be someone standing by to help you. The service is free and confidential. Please be kind to yourself, take care of yourself, and know that even in your darkest place, there is a resource available to you.
Today’s episode is based on the story of Jacob and his night wrestling with the angel on the bank of the river. I had it in my mind that I wanted this episode to be about self-rejection, but as fate would have it, I awoke this morning and for some reason the story of Jacob kept playing out in my head. Then I got a notification from my Facebook memories and 11 years ago on this day, I referenced the story of Jacob as my great-grandmother wrestled with her angel for a blessing during her surgery to remove cancer from her body. So, I must be obedient to the word and the will of God because there is someone who is going to hear and see this message that new life might be breathed into them. Today, I am asking that you allow me to enter into your dark places, that you might bring me into the recess of your spirit where you hide all of those things that embarrass you, those things that make you feel unworthy, those things that cause you to labor in your sleep. My objective today is to bring you out of the dark, to stand with you while your vision adjusts, and to set you on your way.
Prayer: Visit the podcast links.
Jacob was a ruthless man. A con artist. A liar. A manipulator. His name in fact meant “deceiver” It’s said that his name also meant “grabber”. To know Jacob is to know frustration, have you ever known someone that made you want to hurt them? Someone that hurt you so bad, you couldn’t even imagine God blessing them? Jacob’s life was one of never-ending struggles. Self-induced struggles. God only wanted to bless him. But Jacob was bound and determined, Jacob could help himself in spite of himself. The story of Jacob wrestling the angel takes place at a pivotal point in Jacob’s life. He is set to meet with his brother Esau who has vowed to kill Jacob. Jacob had fled from his father-in law, only to cross paths with his brother who had sworn to kill him.
Instead of turning to God, instead of reaching out to ask for forgiveness, instead of trying to repay his debts, Jacob developed a bribe that he hoped would spare his life. So, he sent a caravan of gifts, his women, and his children across the river in an attempt to win favor from his brother. Jacob had sent all of worldly possessions over the river, he was exhausted, he was in the wilderness, if he had to stay out there any longer, he would surely die. A man who had always been able to connive and con his way in to and out of anything, no longer had control over his fate. Jacob literally only had the clothes on his back. His father-in law chasing him from the rear, his brother before him, Jacob could struggle no longer and so he collapses into a deep sleep on the banks of the river.
I want to put a pin in the message right here. Jacob was a worldly man. He had all of the riches, women, land, etc. But you see the world passes by, we are but strangers in this place. We are not meant to be here forever. Jacob had spent all the days of his life so far doing anything and everything to everybody. If you had spent any time around him you would think that surely God could not be in him. Jacob, running scared, death behind him, death in front him, no rest available to him, no possessions left, lonely. I wonder, if you’ve ever felt this in your life. Have you ever been running scared? Fighting scared? Going to work scared? Warming your car up scared? Paying bills scared? Making dinner scared? Sending your kids off to school scared? Fighting for your relationship scared? Asking for a promotion scared? Cleaning up your home scared? Sitting on the front row of a funeral scared? Have you ever been showing up to church scared? When I say scared, I’m talking about not knowing how you’ve made it this far, but a way continues to be made!
From personal experience I want you to know that I use to live my life scared. My mother used to be married to an abusive and violent man. He didn’t care about anybody but himself. I watched him strangle my mother, break her nose repeatedly, he tried to run over with a car, he would cuss her, and talk down to her. He would lock us out of the house or put us out of the car. For years under his thumb, we lived scared and afraid. A ticking timebomb. One day my mama gathered us up and we left. We never went back. We slept on the floors of family members homes, we would get an apartment and be able to stay for a few months, then we’d have to go somewhere else. We used public assistance to get food, to pay utilities to have Christmas gifts, we wore old clothes to church, we didn’t have many shoes, we didn’t have a bunch of uniforms. We didn’t have the other kids over to our house. And we did all of this scared. We didn’t know how the bills would be paid sometimes, but a single mom raising five boys, a way always seemed to be made. So, when I’m asking if you’ve ever had to do something scared, this is what I mean. To be walking by faith and not by sight.
Let me get back on Jacob… Jacob was down on his luck; he was down bad. Jacob was down so bad that God had to come and see him personally. Jacob and the angel began wrestling. It was fight that took everything Jacob had. Jacob, who had been brought to his knees knew that in order to make it out of this situation he would have to receive a blessing from no one but God. The Bible says that the angel tried to “disentangle” himself from Jacob, but he could not. In fact, it says that he could not overpower Jacob. Jacob, wrestling for his life was overpowering the might of the angel. So, the story goes that the angel touched Jacob’s hip joint and caused it to dislocate so that he might be freed. Even this was not enough, Jacob and the angel wrestled all through the night and into the morning. The angel began to beg to be released, at which point Jacob tells him that “I will not let go until you bless me!”. At the conclusion of the struggle, it is written “And there he blessed him”.
- Why are we wrestling:
The critical thing to understand from this story is that Jacob is forced to wrestle with the angel because of his own decisions. Jacob’s behaviors, habits, and customs led him to this point in his life. For some of you listening today, you are the victim of someone else’s actions, there are things you are wrestling with that you did not cause. The unfortunate truth is that those things happened, and no one can take them back. You will have to work towards your healing, and wrestle with that pain until you are healed. The thing about maturing as an adult, is understanding that many of the people we encounter have been hurt in their youth, they were never taught or took the time to work through what happened, and it manifest in their behaviors. Maybe you’re wrestling with a sexual addiction, alcoholism, drug abuse, it could be depression, it could be anxiety, maybe you feel unworthy of a good life, maybe you’ve gotten yourself into a bad financial situation. All of it is going to work out, I can confidently tell you this because for just about anything we have going on in life, there is a resource available to us that can help us not only learn how to heal from what hurt us, but we can also learn how to encourage others to seek their own healing.
- The situation is not your destination:
This is so important to remember and repeat to yourself. Many times, we can go through something, and it can feel and be so bad that we can’t even see beyond it. Someone hurt us years ago and we never healed from what THEY did to us and were angry about what THEY did to us. I mean we’re really jacked up about it. In fact, the person that hurt is carrying on like they ain’t did us wrong! But if you stay in that mindset, you will allow that minute situation to remain your destination, and I want you to know that is not the case. You have to reclaim your power, reclaim your mind, reclaim your space, reclaim your worthiness. Many years ago, my heart was broken by a family member. Let me tell you, when I got abandoned my little ole heart just broke into a million pieces. Chest tight. Crying at night. Feelings hurt. I could not understand why. How could you not love me? My cousin Janet recognized that my heart was broken. But the thing is, I can never expect an apology. I can’t live my life in the waiting room, waiting for that person to see the err of their ways and ask for my forgiveness. It may never happen. And God is still blessing me any how! God done blessed me so good that I would be a fool to spend any time crying about someone that doesn’t’ want to be in my space. I tell you this to remind you that despite what is going on around you, I need you to stay focused on the intended outcome, everything else is a distraction. Learn the lesson along the way but keep after the anointing. Jacob was in a bad situation, death was in front of him, behind him, and in fact closing in from above as well. But in the midnight hour, he got to wrestling with the angel and refused to let him go until he got a blessing from the Lord. You have to live with that same conviction!
In our modern times what does it look like to wrestle with the angel? It means to pray, pray when life is good, pray when life is bad, pray when things feel stale, pray when things are alright. Pray often. It means to keep working. To keep being a blessing to those around you. Your life might not be the best thing popping, but you have a story, you have an anointing, a gift that can be shared, and if you want to see increase in your life, then you have to be willing to pour into someone else. To wrestle with the angel means to be in a state of expectation. To recognize that God can bless you at any time, not just in conventional measures. Recently, I needed to replenish my bank account, I had some bills I needed to pay. I prayed and asked God to manifest a blessing for me, to continue to give me the provisions I need to be an effective vessel. Not only did I wake up to an unexpected direct deposit, I got clarification that I would be getting the job I have now. I don’t know how long you might have to wrestle to get your blessing, but do not give up. Often, the blessing is on the other side of the dry place. So many people give up just before they get the blessing. The angel, dislocated Jacob’s hip. A powerful blow. The dislocation was Jacob’s dry place, can you imagine being in a fight for your life and your hip is dislocated! But Jacob knew that his blessing was on the other side of that fight and so he kept digging, he kept fighting.
- Keep developing your toolkit and upgrading your war room:
The last thing that I want to hit on is the importance of continuously developing your toolkit and upgrading your war room. The toolkit are the things are your immediate disposal to combat anything happening in your life. The affirmations, the mantras, the helpful social media pages, therapists, life coaches, mentors, family, friends, spiritual leaders, books, music, nature, pets, journaling, etc. It’s critical to keep developing and refining the toolkit because sometimes what worked during one episode, might not work during the next. When I was at my lowest and my depression was at its highest, I could not use some of the old tools that worked for me. Do you know that in the midst of my depression I had to come up with some new ways to climb out of that dark place? When I got out, I told myself that I never want to go back. Staying in the light requires consistent and constant effort. There are so many negative influences around us, that if you wanted to be a sad and depressed person it would be a lot easier. But I love living, I love traveling, I love smiling, I love showing these teeth that my dentist worked so hard to get together, I love transferring my energy to friend’s families through my hugs and words of encouragement, and I love being a positive voice with stuff like the podcast and daily affirmations. In order to make that happen, I also have to dig deep and create spaces that speak to the light inside of me.
The war room is a tactical term. It is usually the place where all of the maps and troop placements can be located. In the war room, the generals, advisors, and other important people meet to strategize about how they can not only win upcoming battles, but how they can win the war! I am always upgrading my war room! I have the best people in my war room. We use the best technology, and we honor ourselves with transparent communication. In my group chat titled “The War Counsel”, I have my best friend and cousin. In that chat we hash out disagreements, share laughs, tears, and healing. I want you to take some time and consider who is in your war counsel? I have a couple different war counsels for different things. Sometimes tactics from one counsel might be useful in another counsel. Life is not about being isolated on an island and no war has ever been won by one man or woman.
This is the conclusion of our time together today. I hope that this word has blessed you today. There is a reason that I could not get my thoughts wrapped around the self-rejection content. As we go into the last days of 2021. Consider what it is that you are wrestling with? What blessing is that you need? Are you willing to wrestle with the angel, for however long it takes? Are you willing to fight for your blessing? We have to make some changes so that 2022 is a more fulfilling and bountiful year for us. If you are struggling with depression, suicidal ideations, or any other dark thoughts, please consider visiting www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/call, you can also call 1-800-273-8255. You can also use the online chat service through the website provide. Both the phone line and the chat service are monitored 24/7, there will always be someone standing by to help you. The service is free and confidential. Please be kind to yourself, take care of yourself, and know that even in your darkest place, there is a resource available to you.