“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 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. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” ~Genesis 33:24-26
This story has been tumbling around in my mind for weeks. I’ve known it was something I wanted to write about, but I didn’t know how to form my words or what God was teaching me until today as I sat next to a friend lying in pain in a hospital bed, fighting cancer.
She lay in a fetal position, eyes closed trying to ease the sharp pains in her stomach. We talked of her family–her two daughters and son. Once in awhile the pain eased enough for our conversation to flow, laughter to bubble up, and for a moment we were just two proud mommas talking about our daughters who are recent college grads and new elementary school teachers.
But the pain returned and our conversation shifted to the reality in the room. I placed more blankets on her, tucking her in, wanting so desperately to relieve her pain, and then I started a new paragraph in our conversation. This one was focused on her spirit rather than her physical comfort.
“How are you doing with all of this? How is your spirit?” I asked hesitantly.
A single tear streamed down her cheek, and she said, “I’m trying so hard to be positive. I’m trying so hard to think good thoughts, but I’m just holding on to God.”
Jacob’s wrestling match flashed through my mind, and I knew exactly what to say.
“Hold on!” “Don’t let go!”
When I close my eyes and envision wrestling with God, His muscles are really big. Our skin is sweaty, slippery; it’s hard to hold on. My head is buried into His chest, right next to His heart. I can’t overpower Him. But I really don’t want to. I just want Him. His wisdom. Peace. Blessing. At any moment He could break me, but He doesn’t.
He never broke Jacob, though He did touch His hip and cause a limp. Even then Jacob persevered. He held on.
“…The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he answered. Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome‘” (Genesis32:27-28).
It is so tempting to doubt the goodness of God when tragedies and trials come our way. But Jacob would not let go of God because he knew that blessings were only found in God Himself. He knew that God alone was good. I think he even knew he didn’t deserve God’s blessing. He had deceived his own father. But that didn’t stop Jacob from clinging to God for the blessing. And his unworthiness did not stop God from granting the blessing to him.
The enemy of our souls wants us to be discouraged (loose our courage) and to doubt God’s goodness. When we do that, our grip begins to weaken, and our hold onto God begins to slip. I don’t believe our salvation is threatened, but our future blessings are. I’m convinced that God likes for us to wrestle with Him. He wants us to wrestle for the blessing.
When I’ve wrestled with God, I’ve not done so out of anger. When I’m angry, I stand far from God. I’ve wrestled with God when I’ve needed His goodness and wisdom to settle struggles inside my heart. I’ve wrestled with God/Jesus when I was desperate….when there was nobody else who could help.
I’m praying for my friend to be healed. I’m praying for a miracle. But God made it clear for me to pray for my friend and all people on my prayer list to hold on to Him.
Hold on tight! There is a blessing to be given when we hold on.
Have you ever wrestled with God? Did you receive a blessing?
“To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna….” (Revelation 2:17)
This was an e-mail comment from a friend. I thought it might be encouraging to someone raising children alone:
“Yes, I came know about wrestling with God during my single parent years. There were continual challenges that caused me to hang on, hold on, and press on with him though those years. I’m grateful for those struggles. Through it all I learned to depend on him, He is trustworthy, and faithful even when I’m faithless. I discovered as I wrestled with God that it was He who was actually holding onto me, not the other way around, and that He would never let go of me, even though I struggled. He never failed to hold me close until I was able to surrender, receive his comfort, and find rest and peace in his arms, willing at last to trust His will yet once again. It was then that his blessings flowed.”