Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
One of my favorite stories in scripture is the story of Jacob’s “wrestling match” with a heavenly being in Genesis 32. In this story, circumstances required that Jacob return to his homeland where his brother lived, whom he had wronged. Jacob had come to a place in his life where he was forced to face up to a past that he was ashamed of, and not run from it anymore. He had to stop and deal with it. Out of fear, Jacob did everything possible to put it off (including sending his family ahead of him), but facing it was inevitable.
Many of us have things from our past that we would rather not stop and deal with. We would rather stay busy, keep preoccupied, and drown out the thoughts of it with life’s “noise.” Sooner or later, however, God brings us to a point in life where we have to face up to it, either because the ramifications from it begin to affect our present, or because someone else has been affected by it. These “things” may not be “deep dark secrets”, but perhaps unresolved conflicts, or unsettled matters that are still in our spirits that God is telling us it’s time to deal with. Like Jacob, we may try to put it off, but often our procrastination in dealing with such matters can adversely affect those close to us.
Before Jacob encountered the issue that he knew he had to face, however, Jacob had another encounter. The Bible says it wasn’t a comfortable encounter – it was a wrestling match. Interestingly enough, it’s not clear until after the fact exactly who Jacob is wrestling with, or why. They just began struggling.
Sometimes we feel like we’re in a wrestling match that seems to come out of the blue. There’s a struggle going on, and but we’re not quite sure with whom we are struggling. Is it Satan on the attack? Is it God who I’m struggling with? Is it me who I’m struggling with? We are struggling with questions, wrestling with issues, grappling with decisions. We feel like they have us in a head lock and we’re not sure why.
In the midst of the struggle, something inside Jacob tells him that there’s something special about this wrestling match. This is not just a random attack. Something on the inside tells him that he Needs to wrestle with this! He’s at one of the most vulnerable points of his life, alone, away from his family, and fearing for his life, and all of the sudden, he’s under attack, but something tells him that if he holds on to this man, if he keeps on wrestling, if he doesn’t let go, somehow there’s a blessing in store for him. If he aborts the struggle and lets it overcome him, somehow he’s going to miss out on an opportunity. Jacob made up his mind to hold on through the struggle, and God transformed Jacob into Israel. Israel then could then deal with the issues of Jacob’s past with a different spirit from a new perspective.
Sometimes THE BLESSING IS IN THE WRESTLING! You might not understand what you’re going through or why you’re going through it, (children acting up, spouse acting crazy, household in disarray, and you’re wrestling) but I want to encourage you to hold on to God through the wrestling. Don’t let go. If you hold on through the wrestling, God can and will use it to transform you, and “a transformed you” will be much better able to face and address the unresolved issues of your past.
Your Brother in the Struggle,