Beating Up Brother
The same night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He sent them across the stream and likewise everything he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. – Genesis 32:22-23 (NRSV)
As kids, my brother and I fought like animals. It broke our parents’ hearts. One time my mother got in the middle of a fistfight yelling, “Stop, stop, stop!”
But it’s hard to be obedient when you’re bent on bashing your brother. Instead of punching him, I accidentally hit my mother.
Twins Jacob and Esau wrestled during their birth, which couldn’t have been comfortable for mom. When Jacob stole the family inheritance and ran off, he broke the family.
Twenty years later, Jacob went home. On the eve of meeting his brother, Jacob wrestled with a mysterious opponent. Some say the opponent was an angel. Other say it was Esau.
I say Jacob wrestled himself, his mistakes, and the pain he caused. Jacob was wounded in the bout, giving him a taste of the pain he had caused. That humbled Jacob.
The next day Jacob begged forgiveness from Esau, showered him with gifts, and bowed to him seven times. It worked. They embraced and, as far as we know, never quarreled again.
Today, my brother and I are friends and mom has forgiven me for that punch. When she gets between us now, it’s usually for a photo op. Like Jacob and Esau, reconciliation took time for my brother and me. But now, instead of making life hard for each other, we help each other through hard times.
Reconciling love, if Jacob and Esau can do it, if John and Matt Laney can do it, there is hope for the world.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series publishe by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now