It was about 6 months ago that I broke my right leg. Needless to say, while I recover it’s greatly changed my ability to get around and the way I walk.
And while my leg is about 95% back to where it needs to be, I know from several other broken bones I’ve had that even after you fully heal, things just aren’t quite the same ever again. Being broken changes you.
A Midnight Encounter
In the Bible, I am reminded of the story in Genesis 32 where Jacob had a midnight encounter with God. After wrestling with the angel of the Lord all night, the angel dislocated Jacob’s hip. Jacob was never the same again, and from that day onward walked with a limp.
Inside and out, from that night onward Jacob was a different man. Not only did he walk with a noticeable limp, but he had a brand new identity. He went from being known as Jacob (which means “deceiver” or “supplanter”) to Israel (which means “to strive with God”).
No Longer Haunted By Our Past
Like Jacob, I think most of us have experienced a proverbial “dark night of the soul.” Those dark times try us and take us to the breaking point. Our lives become dislocated and broken. We are all out of sorts, as our lives become filled with strife, and confusion sets in. Those moments inevitably end up having a permanent effect on the rest of our lives.
But I believe these dark nights of the soul to be essential to our walk with God. Without them, our prior identities have this tendency to haunt us, as they hold us back from becoming the person God would have us to become.
The Key To The Dark Night
Prior to wrestling with God, Jacob was a pretty shifty fellow. He was always up to no good. After his wrestling with God and the changing of his name to Israel, he became a man who bore the fruit of God’s purpose and promises in his life.
Not everyone comes out of the dark night of the soul with such a positive experience. Some never seem to come out of it, and their life is one of perpetual ruin instead of something redemptive.
I believe the key to thriving on the other side of the night is found in the details of Jacob’s story. While wrestling with the angel of the Lord, Jacob wrestled through the entire night. He never gave up, and he pressed on until morning. And in what way did he press on?
He told the Lord “I will not let you go…” (Genesis 32:26).
I believe that attitude is key. No matter how dark it gets, and no matter how long the struggle in the night seems to last for, never let go of God. And instead of that night destroying us, we’ll see God’s work in us completed.