Wrestling With God

Genesis 32:24-28 “So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

Are you a “thrill-seeker?”

We frequently find a sensation of pleasure in doing things dangerous. Some people like to jump out of airplanes with only a large sheet to break their fall. Others will jump off bridges or towers with only an oversized rubber-band to prevent them from hitting the ground.

Sometimes the danger is only apparent (or mostly so). Many of the thrill rides at the carnival let us experience the taste of danger and a rush of adrenalin without truly risking our lives.

Sometimes the danger is real. One Florida alligator wrestler wound up with his head stuck in the alligator’s mouth. The man survived, but the animal had to be destroyed to save his life.

Does prayer ever feel like a “thrill-seeking” activity to you? It might if you were the patriarch Jacob. His prayer landed him in a wrestling match with something more powerful and dangerous than an alligator between his hands. Jacob had a grip on God himself!

The Lord appeared to Jacob to wrestle with him here. Such a close encounter alone would fill most mortals with fear. Jacob not only wrestled with God, he also held on to him, and he refused to let him go, until the Lord gave him what he wanted.

How could Jacob pray so boldly? He got away with his daring demand because he asked for that which God himself wished to give him. The Lord had promised him blessings, as he had promised his forefathers.  Jacob was simply “holding” God to the promises he had already made.

We can make such bold requests when we pray for things our Lord has promised us, too. Sometimes our prayers might seem like a wrestling match as we wait for him to answer us. But when we base our prayers on his previous promises, we can be sure he will answer us. He is much more reliable than a parachute or a bungee cord.

In our case, the thrill lies not so much in approaching God with our requests as it does in the mysterious and marvelous ways he often chooses to answer. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “(He) is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

But let’s not be frightened by that.  Jesus has made it possible to call on God as our own Father. Since we have his forgiveness, we know that he works all things for our good. “Let us, then, approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

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