The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
I believe the most difficult thing about the process of reconciliation is getting started…going to the brother in the first place. Most of us can think of hundreds, maybe thousands of reasons why NOT to do it. “He’s the one who needs to be coming to me…when he does, we can talk.” ”Why would I go back to her to talk about it? She’s the one who hurt me in the first place!” ”He won’t listen. He never listens. It won’t do any good.” ”I don’t want to put our friendship in that kind of jeopardy.” And the excuses go on and on and on. But none of them are good excuses, especially in the face of ALL the scripture that tells us we must be reconciled to each other as Christians. Hey, if you are waiting on a word from God about whether or not you should go to your Christian brother or sister and be reconciled, all I can tell you is…pick up your Bible and read it.
God’s call to you to go and be reconciled to your brother is every bit as clear as God’s call to Jacob (Genesis 31) to go back to the land of his father in order to be reconciled to his brother Esau. If you know that story, you know that Esau’s last words to Jacob some 20 years earlier had been death threats. So going back home was no easy task for Jacob. But despite all his shortcomings and character flaws, Jacob got this one thing right…he was obedient to this call.
Notice also that God made no promises or guarantees to Jacob about the outcome of this reconciliation attempt. He makes no guarantees to us either. He doesn’t say, “If you will go to your brother/sister and attempt reconciliation, I promise he/she will listen and will make everything right.” Rather, He just says, “Go.” Maybe reconciliation will happen, maybe it won’t. But we are to go.
And in Jacob’s case, God met him in the process. In fact, Jacob’s “wrestling with God” on this journey was the most spiritually profound moment of his deceit-filled life. God met him in the process and it changed him forever. When God meets us this way, whether or not our brother reconciles with us suddenly becomes less critical…because we are now a changed person.
God does not promise an outcome for your reconciliation attempt. And you may wrestle with Him greatly in the process. But He will meet you there. And that makes it all worth the struggle.