Monday, September 20, 2010

Wrestling with God

Remember the story in Genesis 32 where Jacob spent an entire night wrestling with God? If you don't, you should go over there and read the entire story. When you stop and think about it, it's actually fascinating. You see, Jacob and his entire family and all of his servants were about to be annihilated, wiped off the map, murdered by his brother Esau who was on the way with 400 fighting men to see Jacob.  The trouble was, Jacob deserved it. He had swindled his brother out of his birth right and then his blessing as the eldest son. This was a HUGE deal at the time. It would be like stealing your brother's car, house, and job today. Not only job, but any hope of making a success out of his life.

So, Jacob was in a jam. He had no where to turn. Perhaps you can relate. I know I can! Has there ever been a moment in your life when you felt like everything was falling apart? Perhaps you or a loved one were diagnosed with a terminal disease, perhaps you lost your job and would be out on the street in a matter of months, perhaps your husband or wife left you, or the love of your life dumped you or ran off with another. Or maybe like Jacob, you were in a very dangerous situation.  I mean, I'm talking some serious stuff here. Life altering circumstances.  So what do you do?

  • Throw the biggest pity party you've ever had and cry yourself to sleep
  • Go about in a rage, blaming everyone for what's happening to you
  • Call all your friends and complain, hoping their empathy will console you
  • Get mad at God and either yell at Him or ignore Him.

Aren't these the type of things most people do? I know it's easy to fall into one of these reactions. It's human. But does Jacob do that?
No, Jacob wrestled with God all night long. I actually believe He did wrestle with God. I believe this was Jesus in bodily form. Why? Because Jacob overpowered Him. Nobody can overpower God unless He's in a normal human body. In fact, Jacob wouldn't let Jesus go until He blessed him.  I often wonder how the wrestling match started. I imagine Jacob started praying. Maybe he was angry at God. Maybe he was pleading with Him for help. Whatever his mood, God showed up in bodily form. Perhaps Jesus prodded Jacob into the wrestling match with the intent to allow Jacob to get all his anger out. Or maybe Jesus told Jacob that if Jacob wanted His help, he'd have to work for it. Hey, you never know, right?

I have a true story that illustrates this. I knew a lady whose husband came home one day, packed his bags, told her he had another woman and was leaving. Though she begged him not to, he walked out the door, leaving her with 3 small children. Instead of allowing her anger to rage, instead of moping around crying and feeling sorry for herself, guess what my friend did?  She put the kids to bed and spent the ENTIRE night on her knees in prayer. And this just wasn't any kind of prayer. This was a wrestling kind of prayer. A heartfelt, sobbing, gut wrenching kind of prayer. (And no, she didn't pray that a large boulder would fall on her husband! though tempting, I'm sure)  She prayed for her husband. For his salvation, for him to repent, turn back to God and come home. She didn't just pray for an hour and get tired and fall asleep. She prayed and fasted ALL NIGHT long. She wrestled with God.
And you know what? In the morning, her husband came home and said he wanted to work things out if she'd take him back!

This is what I've learned from this scripture and this story. God wants to know if you're serious about this Christian thing. He wants to know if you truly believe what you say you do.  Are you willing to go the extra mile, spend a sleepless night, fast for a day or two, give up something precious to you, or are you the type who just flings a pitiful prayer toward heaven and then wallows in your sorrow and despair?

Are you willing to wrestle (spiritually) with God until He blesses you? I guarantee it, He would love nothing more!
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about demanding God answer your prayers or do things your way. That's not the type of wrestling I'm talking about. No, I'm talking about a true commitment to following God's will no matter the cost. Of demonstrating  your faith in Him when it hurts you the most. You may not get the answer you wanted as my friend did or Jacob did, but I guarantee you, you'll receive something far more valuable. You'll receive God's favor and blessing, along with the confidence that He's working all things in your life for your good and His glory.


  1. Monday, Sept 20th,
    Good Morning, MaryLu.
    Wow ... great blog, and .... great thought-pondering question ! "Would I be 'willing' to wrestle with God until He blesses me ?" The first thought that comes to mind is ... "I'm a 'lady' ... I don't know "if" I could do that. But the second thought coming to mind is ... I am a persevering lady ... I "am" willing to keep on trying at something, unti I achieve it ! I don't like giving up. Well, all I can say MaryLu, is -- I sure hope (and want to believe) ... that if I 'needed' to wrestle God for/about something ... that I would do it ! I cannot sit here and say (at this moment), that I have 'prayed all night long' (but would probably have ended up falling asleep). And -- 'fasted for a day or two' ... (not that I can remember). But, the 'giving up something precious to me' -- yes. I have given up 'my will' .... for "His Will" to be done in my life, and, the life of family and friends -- as I pray. You see, when I was much younger and mega strong-willed, and naive ... I often 'demanded' that 'my will' be done. Over the years, learning to 'let go and let God' ... I have learned that His Will -- is ALWAYS the best, (even when we don't understand it).
    Thank-you for sharing this with us today, MaryLu. Much to digest and think about, that's for sure !
    And, I 'want' to be a 'God-wrestler, for His blessing' !
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  2. Debbie Mitchell debsbunch5@jesusanswers.comSeptember 20, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    A very good life lesson, MaryLu. Life can throw a lot at us and sometimes we can feel like giving up. But, if we are strong in the Lord, we can overcome anything. (some things may take longer than others)In this passage, I am intrigued by the way the Lord touched the socket of Jacob's hip. The rest of his life, Jacob would carry the memory of that moment with him, reminding him to always keep his eyes on God. In times of stress, sorrow, pain, heartache....all I need to do is remember one quote from the Bible: 'Have you considered my servant Job?' No matter what is thrown at us, it could be worse. May God keep us strong and on the right path throughout the remaining time we spend on this earth. Thanks for a great post, MaryLu, keep them coming.

  3. Wow! This was very helpful, in fact a little too helpful. Lately I’ve found myself throwing too many pity parties – and then I feel horrible after. If only I had spent that time praying, or at least doing something useful.
    It’s hard sometimes when everyone seems to be against you, unfortunately I’m one of those who folds under the slightest pressure. =[ Have to work on that. I had one of those bad days, when hour after hour something goes wrong (until you look at what’s happening in the world, then it’s not even a problem), and I did everything wrong. The moment I realized I was powerless to do anything about it, I prayed. Amazing how that was my last reaction: what kind of Christian does that? I’m a planner; I think that’s part of the problem.
    I need more God time, which means canceling anything that’s unimportant….but I don’t want to start planning it, how fake is that? I suppose I am a little confused. =]
    Um…God bless,
    ~Abigail =l

    ps-I have a history teacher who is distinctly liberal (not even a democrat, it’s worse), and as he preaches his opinion during "current events" I can hear little bits I am 100% sure are wrong. Today he talked about the constitution and he seemed a little lost. It reminded me I wanted to ask you: You had been reading some book about the founders at one point you used to write about, what was it called?

  4. I really liked this post, MaryLu! This is one of those passages where I get a little side-tracked by all my questions (like, "Why would God let someone wrestle with Him?" and "Who even thinks to literally, physically wrestle with God?" and even stupid stuff like "Huh...wresting all night - wouldn't that get kind of tiring?") that I tend to not realize the important message behind the story! :-P It's just so easy for me to get distracted by the silliest things! :-D

    I'm loving Surrender the Heart, by the way! I'm about halfway through...I would be further, if not for so much homework, but when I do get a few minutes to myself, I can't put it down! :-)

  5. Thanks ladies! Brenda, yes, you're already a wrestler.. in the spiritual sense because you've already submitted to God's ultimate will. :-)
    That's interesting about the hip socket, Debbie. I hadn't thought about that. But sometimes I imagine we too can bear the scars of out trials with God. And Job. Yes. What that poor man endured. Good grief! That's a great point!
    Abigail, the book I was taking the patriot stuff from is called the 5000 year leap. I highly recommend it. But if you're looking for some good history (real history that hasn't been skewed and erased to ensure a certain agenda) go to Dave Barton's website Wallbuilders. He has some great books and DVDs and a oopy of the Constitution too! And by the way, it's perfectly normal and human to have a pity party or a tantrum when things go wrong, or to try and fix them ourselves before we turn to God as a last resort. I'm guilty of that as well. The important thing is to learn from it.
    Sapphire, I had to laugh at your post. I get easily caught up in the details too. That's why I always try and stop and ask God what He wants me to learn from the story. I know I'll never get tired of reading the Bible. It's so deep and it's treasures are abundant. I'm glad you're enjoying Surrender!
    Night everyone! God bless!