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Struggling faith isn’t something that people want to have. Yet that’s how many of us would describe our faith. The struggling faith of Jacob is quite a contrast with the faith of Abraham and Isaac. For most of his life Jacob was not a model of faith. From the moment he was born grasping his brother’s heel Genesis 25:26 his life was one of struggling and strife.

Jacob's struggling faith
Esau Selling His Birthright to Jacob By Hendrick ter Brugghen – Web Gallery of Art

Throughout the story of his life there’s a pattern of deceit, tricking others to get the better of them. It’s Esau who tells us Jacob’s name means deceiver Genesis 27:36. Here are four examples.

  • He took advantage of Esau to take his birthright, a double portion of the family inheritance, from him Genesis 25:29-34.
  • He deceived his father and stole a blessing meant for Esau Genesis 27.
  • He deceived his father-in-law Laban Genesis 31:20.
  • He used his children and wives as a shield when he feared Esau would harm him Genesis 33:1-3.

It’s easy to think poorly of Jacob. Yet as the Bible describes his life over time we see his faith awaken and grow. Let’s look at how Jacob’s struggling faith changed over time.

Elements of the Struggling Faith Of Jacob

  1. God spoke to Jacob Genesis 28:10-17.
    God initiated a relationship with Jacob. He does the same with all of us in many different ways.
  2. Jacob took a small step of faith Genesis 28:18-22.
    Jacob bargained with God. It isn’t what a mature believer would do but it shows a glimmer of faith.
  3. God blessed Jacob Genesis 30:27; Genesis 31:5.
    When God blesses His children others see it. There’s no such thing as luck. Every good thing that happens to us is a blessing from God! James 1:17
  4. God protected Jacob Genesis 31:24.
    Jacob didn’t know God protected him. God does that for us as well.
  5. Jacob turned to God in his time of need Genesis 32:9-12.
    At the most difficult time in his life he turned to God. Earlier in his life he would have tried to trick his way out of his problem.
  6. Jacob struggled with God for His blessing Genesis 32:24-30.
    The best example of his struggling faith was an actual wrestling match with an angel. The angel could have won in a moment. This was a test to see how badly Jacob wanted God’s blessing. He had to have been exhausted but he didn’t give up.
  7. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel Genesis 35:9-15.
    The final proof that Jacob’s struggling faith had become his own real, personal faith was when God changed his name to Israel. The exact meaning of the name Israel is uncertain. It is understood to mean wrestles with God or may God prevail.

There are two things I find particularly encouraging about Jacob’s struggling faith. God didn’t give up on Jacob when his behavior wasn’t godly. God rewarded Jacob’s desire for a blessing.

Are you struggling in your faith today? Don’t give up! There is a blessing at the end of your struggle.

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Ward Cushman

My journey of faith started when I was nine years old when I realized that Jesus died and rose again to pay for my sins. At the age of thirteen I felt the call of God on my life for ministry.

I have been fortunate to work in the marketplace for over ten years and in full-time Christian ministry for over thirty years.

My passion is to teach God's Word in such a way that it is easy to understand and so that God uses it to bring about life change in those who hear it.

It is my greatest joy to see God work through me to produce fruit for His glory!