Below is the audio of a message that recently preached to a group of young adults called "The Struggle is Real". I've got my notes below!
Everyone struggles. Some struggles are harder than others and sometimes we wonder why we have certain struggles. We know too, that everyone’s struggles are not the same...but we can all relate to the fact that the struggle is real…
Struggle was all too real for a man named JACOB in the bible. In fact his name meant “heel grabber” because he was a twin that was born second, and he came out with his hand grasping his brother’s foot.
Genesis 25:20-28 (NKJV)
20 Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. 21 Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her:
“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”
24 So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. 25 And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.[a] 26 Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob.[b]
From birth Jacob had this innate desire to "get ahead". And he would struggle with this internal desire for the rest of his life… to try and be “good enough” for what God had called him for.
…Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.27 So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
You see…Jacob was not the strongest one. He was not the man that you would have expected. He was what you would call “a mama’s boy”. And because of this, He carried this inferiority complexity with him. I'm sure he though to himself..."I must do whatever I have to, to be good enough for a blessing." To the point where he tricked his brother Esau out of his birthright by trading him a bowl of beans when he was exhausted from hunting…
Over the years, tension and the sibling rivalry grew and yet Jacob was not satisfied with with birthright alone…yes he got ahead for a moment...but he still was not content. He wasn't satisfied because he still didn't understand his PURPOSE!
Finally, Jacob's father was getting old and was going blind…the day would come soon that he would die and Jacob knew that even though he had the birthright…he was still not his Dad’s favorite…
1 Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son." And he answered him, "Here I am." 2 Then he said, "Behold now I am old. I not know the day of my death. 3 Now therefore, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me....that my soul may bless you before I die. 5. Now Rebekah was listening...
So Rebekah came up with a plan…She remembered the prophesy that was spoken to her and she knew her son was chosen…she had to take measures into her own hands right?
So she made a meal. She took wool and put it on Jacob’s arms so that when Isaac would touch him he would be deceived. She had Jacob to put on Esau’s best clothes and she sent him in for the blessing.
Isn’t it amazing how when God gives us a prophetic word that we always end up trying to make things happen on our own? We formulate an idea of how God should work and even if we have to lie…we will do whatever we have to make it happen…so we think. The problem is that God does not need us to rush his hand. The prophetic word may not be how we perceive it to be...so we must be patient with the process.
When we try to rush the hand of God we will only end up frustrated!!
You see this only added to Jacob’s complex…Can you imagine the statement it made to him...that his mom, virtually wanted him to be someone else to be good enough....
“So I have to pretend to be like somebody else to be good enough…okay, I can do that. I just wear this certain outfit…and I’ll talk like this…and I’ll do whatever it takes to be the person that everyone else wants me to be…then I’ll be good enough…"
The Scripture goes on to show this whole ordeal. Jacob received the Father's blessing alright...but was it enough?
You see, they tried to orchestrate the prophetic word, but there is something on the inside of you that cannot be extracted by the blessing or affirmation of a man, it can only come out in the presence of God. It won’t come out through any effort of you trying to be good enough…it can only come out in the presence of your creator!
The word of God didn’t say you have to be anybody else to fulfill God’s plan for you…you have to be you!!! And God can’t bless you who you pretend to be…
There is a struggle beyond the striving to be good enough where you realize that the real struggle is not outward at all…but inward.
All while you keep trying different things to please man... God is calling your name, pursuing you...asking you to come close and find out the real meaning of the word that was spoken over your life!
Will you stop the striving and hear the voice of God today?
He wants to bring clarity to your struggle…he wants to show you the purpose in your pain…in your rejection…in your hurts...
We see that Jacob gets exactly what he was after…but was it enough? When Esau hears of what they had done…he is bitter because his blessing was given away to Jacob and he vows to kill Jacob…
Mark 8:36 (NKJV)
36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
Is it really worth it…what you’re doing to get that guys attention? Is it worth it…who you’re becoming to get that job…or make enough money? Are you selling your soul to the propaganda the word is feeding you? Or that religion is feeding you?
You see, we can even be in church and still struggling! We can be so obsessed about the house of God that we loose sight of the God of the house of God...And that's the place that Jacob ended up at. As he was running from his brother, Jacob has an encounter with God...
11 So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set... 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “HOW AWESOME IS THIS PLACE" This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
18 Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel;[a] but the name of that city had been Luz previously.
Once again…Jacob struggled with understanding what God was really trying to do in him…because even though God had given him this great vision…it would still be years before he really knew what God was wanting from him.
So he went and worked 14 years for his Uncle for the affection of Rachel and was tricked into having Leah as a wife too…He thought that running from his issues would solve them...but he ran from his own sibling feud right into another one...between the two women that would be his wives.
Here's the thing...you may run from that problem, but if you don't deal with the internal struggle that is really going on....you may have a new job, or move to a new city, or make new friends...but the same issues are gonna pop up. Same issues different people.
Jacob struggled to find his place in a foreign land and eventually angered his father-in-law until he had to run…again…back to his brother.
Isn’t it funny how God…no matter how much you run…will always bring you back around to the same place until you deal with the real issue at hand?
Then it happened…As his life seemingly came full circle back aground to the struggle with his brother that started in his mothers womb…he waited there…the night before he was to meet is brother and God came to wrestle with him…
Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man (an angel which some scholars say was actually the pre-incarnate version of Jesus) wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”
Listen…Your purpose is not to get the affirmation of man…but to please God. Your external struggles are only an indicator of the internal struggle that is going on inside of you. You have been wrestling with your purpose and your search for your identity has led you to dead end after dead end…but in the presence of God…something about you is going to change…you’re going to walk out of here having been touched by God…and just like Jacob walked away with a limp…you are going to walk out of the presence of God and everyone is going to know that something has happened to you….
28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel;[b] for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
The name Israel means the one who struggles with God…but even more than that it means that God rules. It means that he wrestled with the purpose of God and in the end…God got him right where he wanted him…and
…THERE GOD BLESSED HIM
Some of you have been in a fight…you've been struggling and you can’t seem to figure out why. You know that God has a purpose for you but somewhere along the way you have gotten caught up in trying to be somebody else…to please God.
God loves and wants the REAL you. The struggle is Real alright…because we are all in a struggle with trying to accept our REAL selves… and all it takes is pursuing God.
Not religion…because we can get caught up in church too and loose sight of the God that we are serving…
Even Jacob in Genesis 35 went back to Bethel and demolished foreign Gods and literally scratched off Bethel and called the place "El Bethel" meaning the God of the house of God…because no longer would he just be obsessed about the house of God…he was obsessed with the God of the House of God!!
Just because you struggle doesn’t mean that God can’t use you! In fact, God will use your struggle sometimes to get your attention!
Have you become so distracted that you can’t see the trees because of the forest? Have you tried to make God’s will happen on your own? Have you stopped to ask him where you should be? Have you stopped asking long enough to listen to his response?
Jesus said…if you lose your life you will find it!
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Maybe you're like Jacob...and the struggles that you are facing are difficult. What if those external struggles are only and indicator of an issue of your soul? What if you said yes to the calling and pursued God? How would things be different.
I'm not saying that struggles won't come....but will you be in a better place in your soul to handle them and respond to them well?