I’m sitting here at work contemplating how we as humans wrestle with God. I smile as I think of the oft-told story by Joyce Meyer of how she literally held onto the chair legs and begged God to help her as she wrestled with her dark and hurting heart. She prayed as hard as she could and told God she refused to let go until He showed her a different way to live.
I think God and I have been engaged in the same battle this year. I guess if I have to classify 2015 as anything it will be “The Year Marie Wrestled with God”. But the funny part? I’m the one doing all the work. I’m the one wearing myself out. I’m the one throwing the fits and refusing to move. God is as He always is, stable and calm and constant and loving. He isn’t arguing with me. He isn’t debating with me. He isn’t dragging me to where I should be. He isn’t condescendingly criticizing me. He is just patiently waiting for me to get to end of myself – and my temper tantrum – so I can finally hear His still, small voice of encouragement, hope, and love.
And I realize that the issue is mine. I know I’m wrong. I know I’ll eventually do it His way. I know He won’t change His mind, though He may give me what I want just to shut me up (even though it isn’t His best). But my human side wants to wrestle, knowing it can’t win but determined to put up a good fight anyway.
At least I know I’m in good company. I can always go back to Genesis 32 and read the story of Jacob and how he wrestled with God: 22 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. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 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.” 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” 31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
So what does it mean to “wrestle” as Jacob did? There are no hidden meanings in the original Hebrew. It means to grapple or wrestle. And Jacob did. Jacob was determined. Jacob was persistent. Jacob was tenacious. Jacob was fierce. Jacob was untiring. Jacob was (almost) obnoxious.
But why? Because he knew God was ready to bless him, and he wanted it. More than that, he needed it. He needed God’s approval as he ran away from his wives’ father Laban and ran back toward his homeland. He needed God’s strength as he prepared to meet the brother he had repeatedly cheated. He needed God’s direction as he attempted to live out the blessing of Abraham he had been given.
It can be easily summarized this way – he needed God. No other way. No other options. Nowhere else to turn.
Jacob had lived life his way, according to his rules and his methods. He had gone along with his mother and lied to his father to steal the blessing. He had tricked his brother and taken the birthright. He had run away and found love with Rachel. In the course of their relationship, he was tricked into having three other wives – Rachel’s sister (by their father Laban) and the sisters’ maids (by the sisters). He had worked as a slave for this love for 20 years and was ready to leave with his family, but he had to leave by stealthy means. I have to believe at this point in his life he was tired of living up to his name of trickster. He was tired of lying, tired of running, tired of trickery. I have to believe he wanted peace and quiet and a somewhat easy life.
And he met God at this point of desperation. He knew something had to change before he met his brother and made it home. And he knew it had to start with him. So he grabbed onto God and refused to let go until God met him where he was. He clung to God at the complete end of his rope, needing a new direction, perspective, and hope. God found him at that riverside and met him. God saw his need and rewarded his perseverance with just what Jacob needed.
And he’ll meet you too.
What are you wrestling with God about?
Are you determined to get your way at all costs, even if it isn’t His best for you?
Or are you ready to wrestle Him until He has His way with you?
You don’t have to wrestle with your thoughts as longer, as David does in Psalm 13:2. You don’t have to let that habit or addiction or behavior control you any longer. You don’t have to be persuaded and controlled by that mindset. You don’t have to walk alone or handle life without help.
There’s another way. It’s God’s way. There will still be challenges and bumps and bruises, but with God, He will uplift you and guide you and get you through all these things. He will give you a new and better way to live, to think, to act, and to feel. And He will show you a life where the only thing you will wrestle with is how much good you can do for other people.
So will you continue to wrestle at this point? Or will you give up the fight and give it all up to God? The choice is yours, and He’s ready to meet you where you are. It’s time to come off the wrestling mat and into His open and loving arms. Let go and move toward Him. Stop wrestling and allow Him to love you and guide it. You can do it!
Marie Fremin, 6/15/15 and 7/12/15