“So Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” (Gen. 32:24)
Community is a beautiful and necessary thing, but it is the nature of life with God that some battles must be waged alone. Especially battles of identity. Because as nice as it is to have people around you, encouraging you in the fight, we often use those very people, and that very encouragement, to fortify the false self.
Jacob had to be left alone, because God was going to strip away every bit of false from him, so that he could be exactly who and what God made him to be. All of the props needed to be removed, until it was just Jacob, vulnerable and naked before God. You see, the battle of identity requires a stripping away of all the ways we feed the beast of the false self. And the only way to kill it is to cut off its food supply.
God was about to give Jacob a new name, a true identity, but first he had to wrestle away all that was false. And Jacob must have known this, because once the wrestling began, he refused to let go until the process was complete. Only then he was able to walk away—or limp away—a new man. He was no longer Jacob, he was now Israel, because he had struggled with God and with men and had overcome.
But in order for this transformation to take place, he first had to be left alone. I, for one, am grateful for his courage. I am afraid enough to cut myself off from all of the things and the voices that feed the false within me, let alone to be wrestled down to what is really true. O Lord, give me the courage and the strength and the grace enter into that transformative space with you…alone.