Friday, December 25, 2009

God Changes Jacob Uniquely -- Genesis 32:25

When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.

We next read that he (the ‘man’ who was God) “saw that he had not prevailed against him (Jacob)”. Jacob was fighting hard to hold his own and would not surrender. While God could have very easily won this battle from the start with one single blow or other action, He chose not to. He chose to allow Jacob to battle it out with him for some time. And then at a time selected by God, God does something totally unexpected. He touches the socket of Jacob’s thigh. To put it in our terms today, God dislocated Jacob’s hip. Let’s take a closer look at what that means.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says this on its website in 2009 (underlining emphasis mine):

A hip dislocation occurs when the head of the thighbone (femur) slips out of its socket in the hip bone (pelvis). In approximately 90% of patients, the thighbone is pushed out of its socket in a backwards direction (posterior dislocation). This leaves the hip in a fixed position, bent and twisted in toward the middle of the body. The thighbone can also slip out of its socket in a forward direction (anterior dislocation). If this occurs, the hip will be bent only slightly, and the leg will twist out and away from the middle of the body. A hip dislocation is very painful. Patients are unable to move the leg and, if there is nerve damage, may not have any feeling in the foot or ankle area.
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint: the ball-shaped head of the femur fits inside a cup-shaped socket in the pelvis. The structure of a ball-and-socket joint gives it a great deal of stability and allows it to move freely. A great amount of force is required to pop the thighbone out of its socket, but that's just what happens in a hip dislocation.
Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of hip dislocations. (Wearing a seatbelt can greatly reduce your risk.) Falls from a height (such as a fall from a ladder) or industrial accidents can also generate enough force to dislocate a hip. . . .
A hip dislocation is an orthopaedic emergency. . . . Do not try to move the injured person, but keep him or her warm with blankets.
Usually, a physician can diagnose a hip dislocation simply by looking at the position of the leg. . . .
If the patient has no other complications, the physician will administer an anesthetic or a sedative and manipulate the bones back into their proper position (this is called a reduction).
In some cases the reduction must be done in the operating room with anesthesia. A formal procedure with an incision may be required to reduce the hip. . . .
It takes time—sometimes 2 to 3 months—for the hip to heal after a dislocation. The rehabilitation time may be longer if there are additional fractures. . . Patients can probably begin walking with crutches when free of pain. A walking aid, such as a cane, should be used until the limp disappears.
A hip dislocation can have long-term consequences, particularly if there are associated fractures. As the thighbone is pushed out of its socket, it can disrupt blood vessels and nerves. When blood supply to the bone is lost, the bone can die, resulting in avascular necrosis or osteonecrosis. The protective cartilage covering the bone may also be damaged, which increases the risk of developing arthritis in the joint.
We know all this after thousands of years of observation and research, but in Jacob’s day there were no orthopaedic surgeons, no emergency help to call. It was just he and God. Imagine the pain, the agony Jacob must have gone through. For him to have been able to go on with his intended purpose the next day as we read later, given a dislocated hip, we know that the basic character assets that God had built into Jacob did not disappear in that wrestling match. He was still one determined and strong individual, committed to doing what he believed had to be done.

But from now one, Jacob would always have a reminder that he had wrestled with God and God won. God always wins. We just forget. So God has to do something with or to each of us to help us remember. Sometimes it’s physical, sometimes it’s emotional, and sometimes, as in my case, it’s socially related. God knows just the right place to ‘touch’ each of us effectively so that we will always come back to remembering His active role in our lives. We will always come back to remembering that whatever we do, we do because of His power, His allowing, and His grace. That’s our God.

Perhaps not exactly the way we may want things to be, especially with respect to what we can do or accomplish, but that is the way it is. It is that way because He’s God and we’re His beloved creations.

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