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“Wrestling…Part 2”

Post #2 – You ‘Gotta’ Stay in the Game

     Can a ‘wrestling’ story that occurred several thousand years ago be relevant to us who live in the 21st Century?

     I’d answer in the affirmative since without a doubt, my favorite ‘wrestling’ story is one found in the first book of the Bible. It involves a man named Jacob. (Discover or review Jacob’s story in Genesis.[1])

     Even though Jacob traveled by camel—while we zip around the world on jet airplanes—I believe this story remains applicable.

     Jacob experienced much drama and dysfunction in his lifetime, and he reacted with many poor choices.

     Poor choices often leave us feeling much like Jacob—exhausted, frightened, alone, helpless—even hopeless. I like the way The Message[2] describes his end-of-the-rope experience:

24-25 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.

26 The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.”

Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.”

27 The man said, “What’s your name?”

He answered, “Jacob.”

28 The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”

29 Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?”

The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him.

30 Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!”

31-32 The sun came up as he left Peniel, limping…

While chatting about Jacob’s story and the topic of wrestling with a friend whose husband once coached high school wrestling, she commented, “You know, you can’t wrestle without staying in the game!”

     Jacob stayed in the game! He never stopped believing. Despite messing up, Jacob understood at some visceral level God cared enough to bless him.

     You and I cannot wrestle with God if we don’t believe God. We won’t persevere if we cannot accept that God forgives and is for us, not against us.

     A friend of mine attended every one of her big, strong son’s high school wrestling matches. He seemed to love the contact sport, never complained afterward, and my friend said she was surprised one day when she asked him if wrestling hurt. “Yeah, Mom, it hurts. It hurts a LOT!”

     Refusing to give up during a wrestling match—whether at the high-school or spiritual level—isn’t without risk and will probably hurt—sometimes a LOT!

     Jacob emerged from his place of wrestling with an actual physical limp. Our wrestling with God may leave us with broken pride or bruised self-sufficiency.

     The vital example, however, about Jacob’s dogged determination to not let go is he left the place of wrestling with a new name, a name his ancestors carry on today. He also limped away having experienced God’s personal presence and blessing.

     We too will emerge from an experience of painful, spiritual wrestling, with a new identity. We may ‘limp’ away but with head held high, secure in God’s sufficiency, knowing despite the pain, we refused to throw in the towel and leave the game. We’ll feel blessed because we’ve experienced first-hand that God knows our name and cares about our struggles despite our deficiencies.

My Prayer:

Lord, you know I’ve been ‘wrestling’ for over a week with the words in this post. Please use them to encourage any reader who might benefit. Give power to persevere. While my friend grapples, grant glimpses of your grace. Please protect his or her heart during this difficult season of ‘wrestling.’

Sue Reeve

  1. Genesis 24:19-32:29. I found interesting commentary at https://www.gotquestions.org/Jacob-wrestling-with-God.html
  2. Genesis 32:24-28

“Wrestling…”

Not Your WWE Variety!


     I was going through a particularly difficult season a few years back when I complained to God, “This is SO hard, Lord…” The response I felt spoken to my spirit that day was, “I didn’t call you to easy!

     If life has never felt SO hard for you, don’t read further.

     If you, however, relate to my prayer, I hope you’ll read more of today’s post, the first in a series about “Wrestling.”

     When I say “wrestling,” please don’t let your thoughts park at WWE and the likes of Hulk Hogan. Believe me, that’s not the kind of wrestling I have in mind!

     No, the type of wrestling I’m talking about is the kind we do in the middle of the night,

     lying awake,

          tossing,

               turning.

     The kind of wrestling that causes us to agonize about

          difficult decisions,

               thorny relationships,

                    failing finances,

                         changing health,

                              toxic politics, or

                                   an uncertain future.

     It’s wrestling we pray over

          fervently,

               believing, with all the faith we can muster,

                    quoting all the promises of God we know,

but still,Heaven doesn’t seem to hear!

     The kind of wrestling I want to address is that which causes us ultimately to remember the agonizing Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,

And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying,
O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:
Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Matthew 25:39 (KJV)

     Are you in a season of wrestling right now? Please know I’m praying for you.

     I hope you’ll keep joining me for future posts dealing with this topic. I trust, also, you know me well enough by now to realize I don’t pass harsh judgments, give glib answers or possess insight into fancy faith formulas. I’m simply a

     loving granny,

          living in a small North Idaho city,

               listening for the still small voice of the Spirit,

                    longing to understand the character of God better,

                         learning much of life’s journey is a divine mystery.

Prayer:

Lord, In the divine mystery of our life journeys, help us to not lose hope. Give us enough faith to realize even during dark stormy times, you understand our struggles and know how they connect to the bigger story. Give us strength to “wrestle” when life feels SO hard. Bless us also with days and seasons filled with sunshine and rest. Amen

Blessings on your journey …

Sue Reeve

Grace Speaks…“I know you need a friend.”

You can trust what your friend says, even when it hurts.
Proverbs 27:6 (ERV)

Sue’s Note: While I thought I’d already completed this series, today’s post will be the final in a series I entitled, ‘Grace Speaks…’ I hope they’ve blessed you and encouraged you to consider God’s grace in every aspect of your life.

     A little over a year ago, I reconnected with three high school classmates. It’s been a joy getting to know the now mature, lovely women.

      I’ve admired most about them is the enduring nature of their friendship. Forged as adolescent teenagers, the three remain “besties” more than 50 years later. They enjoy lighthearted moments. They celebrate one another’s gifts and accomplishments. They have encouraged one another personally and professionally and have been there in seasons of deep sadness and bitter disappointment.

     A bond of reliance has developed among these women. I imagine even when one says something that may sting a bit, because of the foundation of trust that has been laid, the women are willing to listen and consider one another’s counsel.

     In a recent Ann Voskamp blog[1], I read a guest post from Alli Worthington, who suggested we find a “Battle Buddy,” explaining, “A battle buddy is someone who supports you and looks out for you in and out of battle.”

     She asks, “Don’t we all need a couple of great battle buddies on our journey with us?” and illustrates with a well-known proverb:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) Just as a blacksmith will use metal on metal to form it for its intended purpose, God will use certain people in our lives to sharpen and mold us into who he is making us to be.”

     Alli concludes with some excellent advice: “Identify your battle buddies who…are there for you when life looks more like a battlefield than we’d like.”

     I believe God wired humans for relationship, and therefore, cares about our friendships. I recall three distinct times when I felt deep desire for friendship and asked God to give me a friend. Each time, my prayer was answered. There’s something extra special about the gracious gift of a friendship you know God chose especially for you.

     Do you need a friend? I believe there’s at least one person reading this post who’s nodding her head, perhaps with stinging tears ready to trickle down her cheeks. For you I pray:

Dear God,

I know I can only write words. You know the heart of each person reading those words. You know how each is feeling and what special need exists. I pray you will satisfy the longing and lead this reader to a special friend who is understanding, trustworthy and loving—even as you are.

Thank you, Lord, for your never-ending friendship!

Amen

Blessings on your journey, my friend…

Sue Reeve

  1. Ann Voskamp annvoskamp@aholyexperience.com