The Wrestling Match
It seems as though I am in a struggle for at least a part of every day of my life; a wrestling match. I often feel like I’m wrestling with things like life, my health, poverty/justice issues, and most certainly, with God.
As a result, when I consider my life, I mainly think about the image in the book of Genesis of Jacob wrestling the angel. More than other stories in scripture, I resonate with this one the most. At some point during this very long wrestling match between the two, the angel (God maybe?) realizes that he cannot overcome Jacob. So we see the angel remind Jacob of who is in charge by touching his hip so that he would have a limp for the rest of his life.
I feel like I am being reminded every minute of every day of who is in charge by having a limp, or actually in my case, by not being able to walk at all.
Back to the scripture story, Jacob hears the plea from the angel to let him go. However, he responds by saying “I will not let you go until you bless me”. That one line may very well be the most potent for me in all of Scripture; or at the very least the Old Testament. The angel finally lets go, Jacob’s name is changed and he becomes the father of Israel.
For me in my own personal wrestling match, I feel as though I am regularly being reminded that I am not in charge but that at the same time I am being deeply blessed by God.
I should admit that I actually struggle, wrestle, with the word ‘blessed’ itself. I think it gets overused and not thought about enough by many Christians. Sometimes I hear that people feel ‘blessed’ because they got a good parking spot at the mall or found a great deal on their 30th pair of shoes.
Somehow I don’t think God really cares about any of that!
At least I sure hope not.
Also, sometimes when I think about my friends on the street I wonder if the word ‘blessed’ can somehow imply that God loves me more than ‘them’. I very much doubt that as well. I often think that the word ‘lucky’ or even ‘privileged’ may be better used in situations like this.
Having said all of that, I do in fact feel blessed. I believe that in the midst of my daily wrestling match, my struggle with God, that I am regularly being blessed in so many ways.
I am blessed with a loving wife of 20 years.
I am blessed with a beautiful and talented teenaged daughter.
I am blessed with a home to live in, clothes to wear, food from many cultures to eat, a vehicle to drive, a full-time job with benefits, very close friends and family, a community of people who love me and whom I love, a church that I feel at home in, a collection of single malt scotch that I love to sample some evenings, and oh so very much more. I do not take any of these things lightly.
I have said to God on a regular basis, just like Jacob did, “I will not let you go until you bless me”.
This is yet another one of those tensions in the Christian life.
Blessing and struggle.
Thanksgiving and complaining.
Comprehension and confusion.
Peace and frustration.
Joy and pain.
And because I recognize that God is in fact blessing me regularly, I also do my best to thank God even in the midst of complaining about the struggle.