21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.
22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.
23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.
24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
The night before Jacob met with his brother he sent all the company over a brook, but he remained behind to wrestle with his feelings in solitude. And what a wrestle it became, going far beyond struggling in prayer, for a physical man appeared and literally strove with Jacob! Honestly, I think it might have done Jacob good to have a sparring partner that he could get out all his frustration and fear with. Fear and trauma do not only lodge themselves in the heart and in the mind, but also in the body, and sometimes physical exertion can be the best therapy for processing those deep emotions.
I also see in this story a clear representation of Jesus atoning for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane. There, too, he poured his heart out to his father, and also he began to strive in the flesh, bleeding from every pore, and also an angel appeared, though this one was to strengthen him in the struggle. And in both Jacob and Jesus’s case the result was triumph and salvation. In Jacob’s case for himself and his family, in Jesus’s case for all mankind.
Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.
And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.
And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.
I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way
And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled
Yesterday I shared about a spiritual retreat where my heart reached its saturation point and had difficulty absorbing any more of God’s love. Spiritual connection is fulfilling, but at the same time it can also be emotionally and physically draining.
And while we seek to “bridle passions” and “master the flesh,” we are not meant to become ascetics, ignoring or abusing our physical forms. Jesus showed a great attentiveness to the capacity of the multitude gathered around him. They came to be spiritually fed and they received that. But the long duration had left them faint and he was sensitive to their need for physical revival, too.
It is a good thing to fast, to make physical sacrifices to embolden the spirit, to seek out spiritual experiences that fill us to the limit on a regular basis. But there is wisdom in resting after we have been filled and letting that rapture settle within us.