The past couple of years I have been facinated with movies and tv shows about fighting. I LOVED the movie "Creed"- the illegitimate son, Adonis, of legendary boxer, Apollo Creed, who follows in his father's footsteps and boxes a world champion. It has everything I love- a good underdog story, training montages, action and excitement, a love story, and best of all: Michael B. Jordan. I'm also into the Netflix series, "Glow"- a show about a group of rag-tag actresses who find themselves on a women's wrestling show. Women who kick butt- yep that's awesome.
My interest in fighting shows probably sounds a little weird because Christians are supposed to be meak and gentle, right? And, as a woman, society's idea of what I should be interested in doesn't exaclty line up with upper cuts and bleeding facial wounds. But whatever, I'm throwing convention aside because I think that God is a master story teller who speaks to us even through movies like Creed and tv shows about women's wrestling.
Even in Scripture, we see a character getting into a cage match with God. Yep. It really happened.
22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 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. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Imagine you are Jacob and a random person decides to pick a fight with you. What are you thinking and feeling in that moment? Why do you think Jacob gets into the wrestling match? Why didn't he just walk away?
- The passage says that it was night time and that they wrestled until daybreak. What do you think it was like for Jacob to wrestle all night long? Why won't be just call it quits?
- What does Jacob ask for from the man? Why do you think that's so important to Jacob?
- Why do you think God chooses to wrestle with Jacob? What do we learn about God in this passage?
Jacob was from a messed up family. Earlier in Genesis, we find out that he has a twin named Esau. At the moment of their birth, Jacob and Esau competed with one another. We learn that Jacob's dad favored Esau and that Jacob's mom favored him. Rather than being raised as loyal brothers, Jacob and Esau's parents pitted them against one another. Can you imagine feeling like one of your parents, in Jacob's case, his father, clearly preferring your sibling over you? That was Jacob's life, a constant battle with his brother for his father's love and approval.
God meets Jacob right in the middle of his deepest pain. And he invites Jacob to wrestle with him- I imagine God saying something like, "Stop trying to get approval from your dad. Get it from me!" And Jacob is determined. They wrestle all. night. long. And even when God tells him to give up, Jacob won't do it until God blesses him.
I admire Jacob's tenacity and perseverance, he simply won't give up until God gives him what he wants. And what does Jacob want? Not wealth, not a good grade on a test. He wants God's blessing- the approval and acceptance that he never got from his own father.
Maybe this sounds familiar to you, maybe you feel like you've been fighting a battle your whole life to get the approval of a parent, a sibling, or someone else who you respect and admire. Be honest, are you winning that battle or losing that battle?
What would it look like for you to wrestle with God for your deepest needs?
Sometime this week, set aside 15 min. Imagine you are wrestling with God. As you wrestle with him, what is that thing that you desperately want God to give you? Is it approval in the form of a father's blessing? Or could it be acceptance and love that only he can give you? As you wresle with him, try to articulate what it is you want from God. When you are ready, ask God to bless you. What does he say to you? Is there a word, phrase, or image that comes to your mind that God might be speaking to you?