Could God have healed Jacob's limp? Could He have touched the man's hip and put it back into its socket just as easily as He took it out?
Of course He could have, and that's what makes yearning for healing so frustrating. We know without a doubt that God is capable of it, and we know that God wants fullness for us, and we know that God wants wellness and wholeness in our lives. We know that God has promised to restore us. And so, when we continue to limp even after all these years, even after all these nights of crying out, even after all these thousands and millions of tears, even after all of this desperation, even after all of our trust and faith, we still limp, and it's hard. Given everything we know and trust and love about God, it's just hard to wake up one more day limping. It's hard to take one more step on an unsteady leg.
So, then, how does Jacob do it? It's not just Jacob that has something to teach us here, but other men from Scripture, as well. Paul, for example. And Hezekiah.
For Jacob, I think it had to be the satisfaction of the fullness of his life to that point. He was a man who had had a rough go of it, but he had maintained his faithfulness. He was the kind of servant that he wanted to be - honest, diligent, true. He had promised to work in exchange for everything that he had, and he had worked. He had gone away from home to find the life that he wanted, and now he had it, and he was headed back to where he came from. He had a brother he was hoping to reconcile with, a father he was hoping to see one more time. He had already made his peace with these things, and when he looked at his cup, it truly overflowed.
Yes, he limped, but he wasn't about to let his limp take his focus off of his life. He had truly lived well, he was living well, and the limp didn't change the abundant life in his hands. His story wasn't perfect, and now, his body wasn't perfect, but his life was good. There's satisfaction in that, and Jacob rested in knowing the fullness of his life, even if it was missing a piece.
Paul, we know well, prayed about the thorn in his flesh. He even confessed his fervent prayer to those to whom he ministered. He wanted his affliction to be taken away, but it never was. And yet, despite all of the words that Paul wrote to all of the people and the churches across years of ministry, we only hear about it once. Contrast that with some of us who can't seem to talk about anything but our brokenness, can't go very long at all without mentioning that one thing that we wish was different. We become obsessed with it.
Paul knew that if he became obsessed with his limp, it might keep him from going where God was sending him. It might keep him from having the impact for Christ that he was supposed to have. If all he could talk about was this one thing God had not healed him from, he would miss his opportunity to talk about everything God has done for His people from the beginning of time. Paul understood that his story was bigger than his thorn and that his testimony was greater than his brokenness. He wasn't about to let his ministry be hijacked by his discomfort or his pain. He wasn't about to give up God's call and promise for his own pouting.
Paul persisted, knowing that he had much to offer the world, and much to offer the Lord, and that even if God never did this one thing for him, He had done a thousand others worth talking about, worth preaching out, worth sojourning the earth to share with others. And when Paul tells his story, when he talks about how the Lord changed his heart and called him to greater things, he almost never mentions what God hasn't done for him - because He knows that what God has done is enough.
Hezekiah is a little different; the Lord healed his limp. Hezekiah was lying on his death bed, just moments away from passing on, and he prayed a faithful prayer. The Lord had mercy on him and restored his life and gave him another fifteen years to live. Fifteen years! And I can't help but wonder how that went for him.
Did he wake up every morning wondering if he was sick again? Did he obsess over whether his symptoms were coming back? Was he marking the days off on a calendar, knowing that fifteen years is such a relatively short time? In other words, was Hezekiah able to live a healed life or did he go on living diseased in his well body?
Some of us, I think, continue to limp long after our displacement is reset. Some of us just can't let go of the fear that something is failing within us. Some of us have trouble adjusting to wholeness when God is good enough to give it to us. We never see Hezekiah say another word about the affliction that almost took his life, but some of us live every day with those very words on the tips of our tongues. Even healed, we can't seem to live well. We limp on a leg that is stronger than we imagined it could ever be again.
It's amazing how something so small, something so simple can become such a burden in our lives if we let it. But the testimony of these men shows us how to move past our limp and keep walking a faithful life - in light of what God has done in our lives and knowing full well what He has not yet done for us.
Our limp doesn't have to limit us, not if we live in the fullness of our own story, the story God has given us. It may be a thing, but it doesn't have to be the thing; there is so much more to who we are. There is so much more to who He is.
The trick is to live into that, even while we keep crying out for this.