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God reminded Jacob of his new name, Israel, which can be translated as ‘one who struggles with God’. This suggests that far from living a life that is free from problems, Christians will still have their fair share of struggles with sin and doubt and with the material aspects of the world in which they live. Being a Christian is not a free ticket to eternal life!

In this latest journey to Ephrath (Bethlehem) Rachel gives birth to a son but dies shortly after a difficult birth. Not too long afterwards, Jacob buried his father Isaac. Both these events must have been distressing, but Jacob remained faithful to God.

Jesus had his fair share of disappointments even though he was the Son of God and close to his heavenly Father. His cousin John was imprisoned unjustly and beheaded; the Pharisees constantly tried to catch him off guard; one of his closest disciples, Judas betrayed him, and Peter, on whom he planned to lay the foundations of His Church, denied him three times during his arrest and trial.

But Jesus remained steadfast in the Father’s love and He calls us to do the same. As the psalmist says, if we keep our promises and remain faithful to the Lord, even when it hurts, we shall stand firm forever, for the Lord is our security and our strength.

Scripture: Genesis 35:1-36:43; Matthew 12:1-21; Psalm 15:1-5; Proverbs 3:21-26