So often in life we find ourselves struggling against adversity and tribulation, which like close quarter wrestling drains us of all our strength…
“Dear God, be good to me; Thy sea is so wide, And my boat is so small.”
— Breton Fisherman’s Prayer
Often components of our life can feel like a wide sea: overwhelming, scary, hard to navigate, with storms that might arise any moment?
Be it a health issue for you or someone you love; a relationship challenge; a job or financial issue, or whatever… God is still our ever present help in our time of need! (Ps 139:1).
I love the metaphor here, acknowledging that we often do feel that our boat in the wide sea is just too small for safety.
We need God’s help because on our own, some components of life are just too overwhelming.
We need a sense of God’s arms embracing us and holding us up — undergirding us in our time of need, because some aspects of life are just too scary.
We need God’s guidance because the sea looks the same in every direction, and we desperately need God’s direction.
One thing we can learn from the Book of Job, regarding God’s covenant children, is that whereas bad things may happen from time to time, it is Satan not God who is behind the storms in our life.
Whereas we all have those moments where we feel overwhelmed; and it’s at times like this when we need to remember that the words “thy sea” implies that the big, overwhelming and challenging aspects of our lives, are always ultimately in God’s hands, and so when push comes to shove in our life we need to trust in Him.
This is a lesson that Jacob had to learn in his struggles.
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me? (Jer 32:27).
Esau Comes to Meet Jacob
What do you really need from God right now? What blessing do you want from him? How badly do you want it?
There are times when God only releases His blessings on us after a season of prolonged and even painful wrestling with Him.
In Genesis 32, Jacob is on his way back home to Canaan with his small tribe of wives and children after a twenty year sojourn in Paddan-aram.
And he is scared to death, because his estranged brother, Esau, is coming to meet him — with four hundred men (Genesis 32:6).
This is no welcome party; it’s an army.
So after splitting up his household into two camps to try and avoid complete annihilation, Jacob, understandably suffering insomnia, intends to spend the night alone — no doubt in desperate prayer.
But a strange man who shows up and wrestles Jacob till daybreak rudely interrupts his plans.
Here’s the backstory:
To know Jacob’s story is to know his life was one of never-ending struggles.
Though God promised Jacob that through him would come not only a great nation, but a whole company of nations, and all the same Jacob was a man full of fears and anxieties.
At this pivotal point in his life, Jacob was about to meet his brother, Esau, who had vowed to kill him.
All Jacob’s struggles and fears were about to be realized; his back was against the wall and this was one situation that he couldn’t wiggle his way out of, not without God’s help.
Sick of his father-in-law’s treatment, Jacob had fled Laban, only to encounter his embittered brother, Esau.
Anxious for his very life, Jacob concocted a bribe and sent a caravan of gifts along with his women and children across the River Jabbok in hopes of pacifying his brother.
Now physically exhausted, alone in the desert wilderness, facing sure death, he was divested of all his worldly possessions.
In fact, he was powerless to control his fate. He collapsed into a deep sleep on the banks of the Jabbok River.
With his father-in-law behind him and Esau before him, he was too spent to struggle any longer.
But only then did his real struggle begin.
Fleeing his family history had been bad enough; wrestling with God Himself was a different matter altogether.
That night an Angelic Stranger visited Jacob.
They wrestled throughout the night until daybreak, at which point the Stranger crippled Jacob with a blow to his hip that disabled him with a limp for the rest of his life.
It was then that Jacob realized what had happened:
“I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared” (Genesis 32:30).
In the process, Jacob the deceiver/ supplanter received a new name, “Israel,” which means:
“After having gained power with God, he will rule as God” (Strong’s h3478. יִשְׂרָאֵל iyśrâ’êl).
However, what is most important occurred at the conclusion of that struggle.
We read that God “blessed him there” (Genesis 32:29).
In the end, Jacob does what we all must do. He confronts his fears, his failures, his weaknesses, his sins, all the things that are hurting him . . . and He faces God.
Jacob wrestled with God all night. It was an exhausting struggle that left him crippled.
It was only after he came to grips with God and ceased his struggling, realizing that he could not go on without Him, that he received God’s blessing (Genesis 32:29).
What we learn from this remarkable incident in the life of Jacob is that our lives are never meant to be easy.
This is especially true when we take it upon ourselves to wrestle with God and His will for our lives.
As God’s Covenant Children, we are not made for safe harbors, but we need to cast our faith out into the deep, because that’s where Jesus is.
We also learn that as Christians, despite our trials and tribulations, our strivings in this life are never devoid of God’s presence, and His blessing inevitably follows the struggle (Rom 8:28), which can sometimes be messy and chaotic.
Real growth experiences ALWAYS involves struggling and pain — no pain no gain — and even the Bible says of Jesus that He learned obedience through the things He suffered (Heb 5:8).
Jacob’s wrestling with God at the Jabbok that dark night reminds us of this truth: though we may fight God and His will for us, in truth, God is so very good.
As believers in Christ, we may well struggle with Him through the loneliness and darkness of night, but by daybreak His blessing will come.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Sat, May 28
7 BIBLE VERSES FOR WHEN YOU’RE WRESTLING WITH GOD
(Turn to these Bible verses when you’re wrestling with God.)
By Lesli White
What is your relationship like with God?
If it’s broken, how do you repair it?
This is a question many of us ask ourselves regularly not only when we’re lost, but also when we are saved.
Feeling lost or struggling on your faith journey isn’t something to feel bad about, as we have all lost our way, even when saved.
Even when we’re wrestling with God, He wants us to remain faithful and recognize that everything happens for a reason and is a part of His Will.
Sometimes difficulties and crisis are used by the Lord to bring us closer and to develop intimacy with him.
The more you grow in Christ, the less questions you will have and the more you will trust in God.
This won’t happen overnight. It’s an everyday process.
One of the first things you can do when you’re wrestling with God is turn to the power of Scripture.
Here are seven Bible verses for when you’re wrestling with God.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says,
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.”
When you’re struggling with God, there is often great confusion about spiritual direction.
One of the Enemy’s greatest desires is to get a believer out of destiny and separated from God.
This all begins by confusing you. The knowledge of God’s Will and purpose for your life is superior to the world’s false and speculative knowledge and wisdom.
This is the most important fact that every Christian must get hold of.
There is a dangerous chain reaction that is taking place in the thinking today of many Christians.
The ultimate cause of most problems in the Christian life is the failure to have knowledge of God’s Will.
The reason we are so lost is because we neglect His ordained meanings of knowing His Will.
This happens because we believe that something else is superior to God’s ordained way when the truth is, nothing is superior to God’s ordained way.
When you’re wrestling with God, it’s easy to become extremely frustrated with Him.
During these periods, the Enemy uses a variety of circumstances to oppress the mind and bring great frustration.
A person who is wrestling with God finds themselves on edge and anxious.
Getting over your anger with Him is really about straightening out what you expect from Him.
If we think of the Lord as our personal genie and believe that He will grant everything on our wish list, you’ll be mad at Him every time things go wrong.
But if we know that He is our Father in heaven and that He will supply our every need according to His Will, we will not be disappointed.
Philippians 4:19 says,
“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
Having faith in Jesus is not insurance against hardships, but it is a way to endure.
One of the biggest challenges we face on our spiritual journey is completely trusting God’s Will, especially when our faith is being tested.
A huge sign that you’re wrestling with God is when you begin to question your faith.
This is often a result of our disappointment in our lives based on our experiences and expectations.
While we can’t avoid disappointment, we are told through Scripture to trust in Jesus and His promises for us.
Psalm 46:1 says,
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
If you are dealing with a disappointment right now, remember that you can rely on Jesus.
When we recognize God’s goodness, even in our daily struggles and disappointments, then we can really know God.
Beginning to question God is often a sign that we desperately want to know the answers to our circumstances in life.
It also may be a sign that we truly want to know who our Lord is so that we can see the light in the midst of our confusion.
However, if it is coming from a prideful heart that says ‘I know better than God’ then we are wrong to question.
If it is because we are trying to stall our obedience to the Lord, it is wrong to question.
If we question God’s authority, then that too is incorrect behavior on our end.
Joshua 1:9 says,
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
There is nothing we need to be discouraged by when we have full faith in God.
When you’re wrestling with God, it will have not only an impact on your spiritual well-being, but also on your physical well-being.
You may feel unusually sluggish and tired.
While this can be a result of natural problems, lack of sleep or health problems, it can also be a result of prolonged spiritual battles and separation from Jesus.
You may also be suffering from spiritual fatigue. This means that your soul is exhausted, not just your body.
It is a sign that we have become separated not only from Jesus, but also from ourselves somewhere along the way.
At these points, we need to reconnect. Isaiah 55:6 says,
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.”
We are reminded that God is the source that we can always turn to, no matter what trouble we face.
When you find yourself in a broken relationship with God, it’s easy to be pulled back towards negative cycles that you broke free from.
During these periods, you are extremely vulnerable to spiritual attack as the Enemy wants to enslave you once again in the same old bondages.
If he can discourage you enough that you give into sin that you were free from, you are more likely to spiral down into deeper defeat.
The only way to truly break free from these bondages is to first admit that you have a problem; that you’re in bondage, and then admit that it is your choice to be in bondage, just as it is your choice to be free.
Colossians 1:13 says,
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”
In this, we know that God has dominion over the enemy and all things are possible through Him.
1 CORINTHIANS 10:13
Have you ever found yourself wishing that you could be more zealous or passionate for God?
You might be unsatisfied with your lack of growth in your faith.
Lacking spiritual passion is a sign that you’re wrestling with God.
When you’re struggling with Him, it’s easy for the Enemy to swoop in and steal your tenacity for things of God.
During these periods, our prayer life seems stalled. Our commitment is tested and it can feel like we can’t push through.
When we’re separated from God, you feel as though you are just going through the motions as opposed to feeling connected to Jesus.
But the Bible serves us as a great reminder.
First Corinthians 10:13 says,
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
There’s nothing we can’t conquer with God on our side.
If you’re wrestling with God, it’s important to look not only outward, but also inward.
What does personal relationship look like with God?
Knowing what that relationship looks like is key to growing with God and overcoming any brokenness with Him.
Choosing a relationship with God starts in your heart. You will face discouragement, setbacks and disappointments, but when you choose God, there’s nothing you can’t get through.
Come join the Adventure!