There is an interesting story in the Old Testament about a wrestling match. Now I don’t believe anyone was wearing a really cool WWF costume or anything, but if pay per view were around, I think it would’ve been a huge hit!
It all starts with this guy named Jacob. Now Jacob was a trickster. He had already stolen his older twin brother Esau’s birthright, which was a big deal back then because the oldest son inherited everything! Later, he also stole his father’s blessing away from Esau. Now Esau planned to kill Jacob, so he fled to another area.
Interestingly, Jacob was declared at birth to be the one who would be in charge and receive God’s blessing, even though it was against the cultural norm of his day. But Jacob never trusted that. He manipulated; he cajoled. He didn’t trust he would receive blessing. Now God spoke to Jacob. He rescued Jacob more than once from precarious situations. Still, Jacob had a hard time trusting God.
Over 20 years later, Jacob is met by angels, and then decides to send word to meet with Esau in order to reconcile with his brother. Esau accepts, but when Jacob learns he’s bringing 400 men with him, he panics. He comes up with this elaborate plan in an effort to keep all he has safe. The bible says he was “in great fear and distress,” (Genesis 32:7). And no wonder! Esau had plenty of reasons to go after his younger brother.
In this moment of fear and doubt, Jacob does something I love. He drops to his knees and prays. He reminds God of His promise to bless Jacob, and humbly asks God to protect him. Still, in his heart Jacob is unsure.
All alone the eve before he’s to meet his brother, a man shows up. The man is no ordinary man, either, but an angel. Somehow, the two start wrestling. Now Jacob is no longer a young buck, but he refuses to quit. These two literally wrestle until dawn! The angel finally taps into his super natural power to dislocate Jacob’s hip, and still Jacob won’t let go! Why? He wanted a blessing. And so he was blessed, and given the name Israel. The rest, as they say, is history.
I can relate to Jacob. God has shown me time and again that He has my back, that He loves me and will protect me. Yet there I am, down on the floor wrestling with my emotions and fears late into the night. I can argue with God; fight with Him. I remind Him of things that clearly He doesn’t need to be reminded of, though, of course, I do! I have a hard time trusting He will do all He has promised, even though He has always been faithful to me.
It’s in those moments of doubt, in those moments of testing, I have learned the importance of continuing to wrestle, to never surrender. Oh, I’ve definitely lost some matches here and there. I’ve taken my lumps. But I’ve also learned the power of getting back in the ring, of refusing to let my own inner battles keep me from seeing God’s hand. And surprisingly, the more I learn to keep wrestling until I receive and believe God’s blessing, the less I have to wrestle. Faith built over time has taught me that God really is true to His word, whether or not I believe in the moment.
God did, of course, protect Jacob. Esau actually ran to Jacob, tears in his eyes, happy to reunite with his little brother. And while clearly God would have blessed Jacob without him having to wrestle through the night, God knew Jacob needed to wrestle. He knew Jacob would most grow through the process.
So don’t quit wrestling! It’s hard; it can be mentally exhausting. Take breaks when you need to, but don’t you quit! When the dawn breaks—and it will break—you’ll find yourself at a place of surrendered peace, trusting in God’s blessing.
For Further Thought: “You have faith in God, whose power will protect you until the last day. Then he will save you, just as he has always planned to do. On that day you will be glad, even if you have to go through many hard trials for a while. Your faith will be like gold that has been tested in a fire. And these trials will prove that your faith is worth much more than gold that can be destroyed. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory,” (1 Peter 1:5-7).