The First 15

Monday December 5, 2022

by Thomas Mitchell

Today is Monday, December 5 and this week continues our journey through the Advent season as we consider Jesus as Lord of the wrestling heart.

Scripture Reading

That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Genesis 32:22-24, 28


Jacob was one to resist and to get his way. He struggled his whole life – with his brother, his father, and his father-in-law. These stories of Jacob’s life were permeated with deception, resistance, and impatience.

When we consider Jacob’s struggle, we can see that his greatest obstacle was fear (Gen. 32:7-11). In today’s passage we read of Jacob sending his family, herds, and flocks ahead of him at the ford of Jabbok. Jacob is left alone to wrestle with the fear of facing his brother. We read that Jacob wrestles till daybreak with a figure he understands to be God. When the wrestling is over, we find that Jacob has been transformed and is given a new name, Israel – one who “struggles” with God.

Prior to this transformational moment, we can only imagine the strain of his relationships. Could he love himself? Could he give or receive love from others? The reality of his relationships drove him to his struggle and self-reliance at the expense of connection with others and with God. But, scripture tells us that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Perhaps that is what encountered Jacob that night. In the midst of overwhelming fear, God met him with overpowering love.

For us, we consider fear in our own lives and relationships. We consider how it can disrupt and disorient us and separate us from truth and love. But, in Jesus we find an offer of both. We are invited to surrender our struggle and to be met with the same overpowering love of God that met Jacob at the ford of Jabbok.

How has fear disrupted your life? How has it negatively affected your relationships with others and with God? How has the love of Jesus met you in your fear and reoriented you? Consider the fears you struggle with the most. What is Jesus inviting you to surrender this Advent season?

Closing Prayer

God you know my deepest fears. You know that my fear affects my relationships with others and with you. Would you break my fear by the power of your love for me? I surrender my struggle to you today. Would you give me the peace to wait in the promise of truth and love you have for my life? In Jesus name, amen.

Songs of the Season

Listen and sing along with us to songs that will shape our Advent season. Today we will sing “I Wait” by All Sons and Daughters which you can find here. Subscribe to our Spotify playlist featuring all of our Songs for the Season here.

First 15 through the season of Advent is adapted from Roots: Advent and the Family Story of Jesus available through Seedbed. If you or your small group are interested in using this resource for your Advent study, you can find more information here or send an email to

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