Sunday, May 22, 2011

Scripture Sunday: Wrestling with God

But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.  When the man saw that he couldn't get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob's hip out of joint......The man said, "....Your name is no longer Jacob.  From now on it's Israel (God-Wrestler); you've wrestled with God and you've come through........The sun came up as he left Peniel, limping because of his hip.
Genesis 32: 24-25, 28, 31 (The Message)

What does it mean to wrestle? According to most dictionaries, it means "to contend" or "to struggle."  Merriam-Webster even goes a step further and states that it can mean "to engage in deep thought, consideration, or debate."  While we might not physically wrestle with God as Jacob did, it's quite likely that we wrestle with God in other ways.  At first, "wrestling with God" might seem like a negative thing, like God is our opponent, but the truth is, sometimes it is in those "wrestling matches" that God can most change us.  {Did you notice that Jacob emerged from his struggle different?  With a new name?  With a limp?} In fact, God would much rather us wrestle with Him than not have any relationship or any communication with Him at all.  Throughout Scripture, you see men & women of God who often "wrestle" with God, question Him, and ask Him to change His mind.  Often those "wrestling matches" with God result in miracles, answered prayer, and change.  {One example is in Genesis 18 where Abraham pleads with God to save Sodom & Gomorrah for the sake of even just a handful of righteous.  Through Abraham's consistent prayer & questioning of God, God chose to save Lot, Abraham's nephew.} 

What is it that you're wrestling with God about today?  Is it about His calling on your life?  Something He's asked you to do?  Or maybe it's about that miracle you've been longing for or that healing you've been asking for.  Or maybe it's about something you just don't understand and you're seeking an explanation from God.  Whatever it is, I encourage you to press on!  Scripture tells us to be persistant in our prayer (Luke 18) & to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17).  It's okay to ask God questions.  You may think asking questions means you lack faith, but the truth is, it's a sign that although you don't understand something or agree with something, you believe that God is in control.  Why else would you ask God for an answer or an explanation?  You wouldn't ask a waiter at a restaurant to prescribe you a medication or even how to fix your air conditioner, would you?  Why not?  Because you wouldn't trust his couldn't be sure that he had the correct answer or could give you what you ask.  In fact, you'd probably assume that he wasn't any more knowledgable than you on the subject. 

So why do you ask of God and question God?  Because, know matter how upset or unsure you might be, somewhere in your heart you know that God has the answer and is in control.  You know that He knows more than you do.  You know that ultimately He's in charge & has a plan.  So you see, that's faith!

Does wrestling with God mean that He'll always answer you as you hope or that you'll win?  Not necessarily.  Notice that the passage above doesn't say that Jacob won, but rather that he "came through".  Sometimes the most important part of these "wrestling matches" is not getting an answer, but "coming through."  It's what you take from your encounter with God.  It's how you come out of it a new person......changed.  Jacob's new name & limp forever served as a reminder to him of his encounter with God, of his dependence on God, of his relationship with God.

You see, it's impossible to have an encounter with God and not be changed!  And maybe, just maybe, that change in us is the reason God allowed the "wrestling match" in the first place.