God had told Jacob he’d take care of him wherever he went. But Jacob’s normal behavior was still to use his own tricky plans to get what he wanted from people, just like he got the birthright from Esau.
When Jacob was living with Laban, Laban was tricky too. Laban tricked Jacob into doing lots of work by giving him Leah for his wife and taking sheep that would have belonged to Jacob.
But God’s plan was what really mattered. God used even those mean and tricky things to make his promises to Jacob come true. Jacob got a large family and became very rich.
Well, on his way back to the Promised Land, Jacob was still focused on his own strategies for getting what he wanted from others. He worried about Esau and carefully planned his meeting with him. But then—before Jacob could cross into the land—God came and wrestled with him.
Why did God do that? Perhaps it was because Jacob had to learn that what God gives matters most. Jacob had to stop struggling with others so much, and first of all wrestle with God. Success in the Promised Land would not come from outsmarting others. It would not come from a good strategy for meeting Esau. It would come from receiving God’s blessing. He needed to know that his struggle to get what God could offer him was far, far more important than any other struggle in his life.
Sometimes we too might think the way to get good things in life is by being smart or tricky. But really, all blessings come to us from God. We must attach ourselves to Jesus, much as Jacob held on, and never let go. Our life in him—not our own schemes—is what really matters.