Wrestling with God

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle mentioned something during a sermon once that inspired me. He said he keeps a Bible for 5 years, journaling as he reads, and then writes a letter in the front of the Bible and gives it to one of his children. That way his thoughts are paired with the powerful words of God as his children study the Bible in later years. I started a Bible for Katrina when she was born, and I am just finishing up my 5 year stint of reading, studying and journaling in it. I realized this spring that I have been avoiding certain books of the Bible, namely the early Old Testament!, and started trying to catch up. I just completed Genesis, and these are some thoughts I had while reading the story of Jacob's wrestling match with God (Genesis 32).

"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." Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared." The sun rose above him, and he was limping because of his hip." ~ Genesis 32: 24-31

This is so interesting in light of my present situation. The current brand of "nice Christianity", that smiling, sweet-voiced, forgiving and always tender Christianity so common in pop culture, does not capture the fullness of a lifelong relationship with God. This passage begs the question, is it o.k. to struggle with God - REALLY struggle - a knock-down drag-'em-out physical fight?? Am I willing to truly go to the altar with big questions, tough questions? Am I willing to ask God, again, after asking many times before, why he allows faithful people, still useful for the advancement of the Gospel, to suffer and die?

It is o.k. to struggle with God! He doesn't ask that we accept difficult times without asking questions. What He asks is that we recognize Him and give Him glory at the end of the struggle! He wants us to beg for blessing, continue in the struggle until we have come through it. And yes, we might limp at the end. I might not walk through this fire unscathed. It is not enough to simply "name it and claim it" - He wants me to fight for it.

Who would have thought I would find an answer to this question in Genesis??