THIS MESSY LIFE: CHILDHOOD - PART 2
When God Let’s Us Win
Sunday, September 22, 2019
Then he said, “Your name won’t be Jacob any longer, but Israel, because you struggled with God and with men and won.”
“You win some, you lose some.” That’s just the reality of life. Every one of us needs to learn how to be both a good loser and a good winner. Our ability to enjoy the game regardless of the outcome without crying or gloating all boils down to good sportsmanship.
Parents generally let their kids win at just about everything when they are young. It builds confidence and minimizes discouragement for children who do not yet have the emotional capacity to process failure. At a certain age, we start allowing them to lose. While building confidence is important, they must also learn to deal with the reality of defeat which will come far more often in life than any of us would like.
The same is true when it comes to behavior. When a child is simply learning what is right and wrong, mercy, understanding, and teaching should outweigh the consequences. At some point, however, they will “know better,” at which point consequences become more serious. We cannot and should not always protect them from the outcomes of their own poor decisions.
As God’s children, I believe we have a heavenly parent who trains us in much the same way. Jacob’s life is clearly filled with mistakes and poor choices, some out of immaturity and some out of blatant defiance. At some point Jacob’s struggle against the world and against his own nature turns into what seems like a physical wrestling match with God.
At this point we might think Jacob should know better. It’s time for Dad to put this spoiled kid in his place. He needs to learn that he can’t always manipulate others to get what he wants. For once in his life, Jacob needs to learn how to lose.
“Your name won’t be Jacob any longer, but Israel, because you struggled with God and with men and won.”
- Genesis 32:28
What? After all Jacob has done, God let’s him win. Granted, not without a limp from his torn thigh, not to mention a severely bruised ego. Nevertheless, Jacob wrestles with God and his life is spared. God’s blessing is greater than God’s punishment.
Maybe Jacob needed a different lesson that day. What if it wasn’t about winning or losing at all? What if it was simply a reminder that God’s love toward him had nothing to do with winning or losing? Jacob didn’t have to manipulate or control others in order to gain favor. He didn’t have to “win” in life in order to receive God’s blessing.
Maybe the lesson we all need right now is more than simply how to win and lose, but to learn to see ourselves as truly loved and blessed by God regardless of how much we win or lose in life. God’s blessing does not depend on our actions or accomplishments, only on grace, undeserved.