Advanced search Click here for the website of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

Skip Content

2 December 2017


Saturday 2nd December - Genesis 32: 22 - 32

Jacob: God with us in our Struggles


Do you ever lie awake at night tossing and turning, trying to sort out a problem that you’ve faced during the day, or trying to plan how you’ll deal with a difficult situation the next day?  Do you ever realise that God is with you as you wrestle with your stress, or your conscience, or your fears?

Jacob was facing a daunting situation. Having cheated his elder brother Esau out of his father’s blessing, he was now about to meet him again after many years’ absence. And not only did Esau have the moral high ground, he also had an army behind him. That was a real problem Jacob had to wrestle with during the long night in the desert.  But it wasn’t until some time into his exhausting tussle that he realised that he was actually wrestling with God. Maybe he had been looking for an easy way out of the encounter with his brother – having tried bribery and lavish gifts. Maybe he was making excuses for his deceit and cheating. But in the end he had to face up to what God wanted to show him. He needed a real blessing from God, given in grace, and received in obedience.

God sought him out and was with him through his struggle, and Jacob emerged from the encounter a different person. He had a new identity; a new name. No longer was he Jacob ‘the deceiver’, he was now Israel – ‘one who strives with God’, ready to take the people of the Promise, (Israel) on the next part of the journey.

For some of us the night can seem very long and the struggle appears unending. As we pray in the dark times, may we become aware of God with us and call on his blessing.


For further reflection, please read “In Touch with God: Advent meditations on biblical prayers” by Michael & Rosemary Green, pages 5 - 8