The battle always comes before the blessing

Published 2:00 am Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sometimes y’all we give up too soon. If we had only battled, resisted or even loved just a little while longer, we would have indeed won the blessing. I know that some seasons in life can be extremely tough.
I also know that there is a limit to human endurance – especially when we seem to be going through our own private hells. We all have thrown temper tantrums in which we wanted to “throw-in” the proverbial towel.
Yet when we have gotten to that point – you know where your point is – where we have literally “had enough,” that is usually the point where our adversity, our opposition, our struggle, or our roadblock is about to be removed.
Even for those of us struggling in the twilight of our lives, peering over the horizon at an uncertain future, remember that the final battle comes before the blessing. When you are striving for good or to live well and be a blessing to others, your good will ultimately prevail. Good will ultimately prevail, that is, as long as good has a vessel or a human being who is willing to persevere through adversity.
So if you are fighting “the good fight” for what is just, and you seem to always be on the losing end, or if battles and adversity just seem to keep on popping up, rest assured that you are merely facing the battle that comes right before the blessing.
You may recall the Jewish patriarch, Jacob, who wrestled with an angel. Jacob was in the battle of his life. His battle was not merely with the angel. For those of you who remember the passage, the next morning, if he lived, he would also have to face his murderous brother Esau.
Esau was Jacob’s elder twin from whom he swindled the birthright. Jacob didn’t know whether he would be killed that night or if he survived the struggle with the angel whether his brother would kill him in the morning.
Then too, Jacob had just separated from his uncle, Laban. They previously had a disagreement over Jacob’s wife, Rachel, and more recently, over cattle and everything else. One of them had to leave their common grazing ground before someone got hurt. So a troubled Jacob left.
These are merely the outward signs of battle in Jacob’s life. Jacob also had identity issues. He was loved by his mother and appeared to be her favorite. Yet his father, Isaac, favored his elder brother, Esau. In a patriarchal society, this was no mere glancing blow. It appeared that the spiritual heritage and blessing in this family would reside on the elder brother and not on Jacob.
So at critical junctures of his life, Jacob had to resort to using trickery or deception. He tricked his brother into getting his birthright. This was done over a pot of steaming stew. Later he and his mother tricked his father into passing the family blessing on to him instead of his brother Esau.
In spite of these episodes of deception, the Creator still had favor on Jacob in spite of his past. Likewise, the only way that we can really receive the favor of the Creator, is that we must come face to face with our own fears, our own past, and our own insecurities.
To be worthy of the blessing of the Creator, we must embrace all that we are and all that we have been, both good and evil. The Creator knew who Jacob was, even though Jacob didn’t know much about himself. The Creator also knew what was in Jacob, even though Jacob didn’t know.
We who have been through so much, and we who may be going through tough times right now, sometimes we don’t know why the Creator would love the likes of us! It truly is a mystery. Yet Jacob had to learn that he was worthy of the Creator’s loving favor.
We can spend all of our lives creating trouble for ourselves, trying to be somebody or something that we are not, when our Creator loves us and sees the potential in us even before we have done anything that could be called “good.”
Jacob was in the midst of a season of battles. He had battled with his father, battled with his twin brother and battled with his uncle. Within his heart, he was also battling with himself. This is what the wrestling with the angel was about: insecurity.
The angel could have overcome Jacob, but it was in the Creator’s plan to allow Jacob to prevail. Jacob was indeed blessed, not because of the struggle, but in spite of it. Do not give up my friend, you will prevail. You don’t have to know how. The victory will not come in the way that you want it, or even in the time you want it. The one thing you must do is hold on.
Life’s various battles and unending struggles can leave us battle weary and battle scarred. Yet, Jacob held on. In the morning, he received the blessing that was already his. I am reminded of the psalmist’s words: “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Rev. R.D. Bernard is pastor at King Solomon Baptist Church. He can be reached at 601-638-7658.

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