No one who wrestles with God comes out of the experience unchanged.
Jacob, in Genesis 32, wrestled with a mysterious being often identified as God or a representative of God. There he was, minding his own business, camping out and all alone along the Jabbok River, and the next thing he knows he’s grappling with some person who appeared from nowhere and approached Jacob for no apparent reason. Neither wrestler gained an advantage, although they struggled with each other through the night and into dawn.
Finally, the mysterious figure struck Jacob on the hip, which hobbled him. Still, Jacob persisted, and the contest ended in a draw. Jacob came out of the incident with a new name – Israel, meaning “you have striven with beings divine and human” – and a limp that lasted the rest of his life. Israel was weaker physically, but wiser spiritually.
So it is with us. The Bible makes it clear through the stories of Jacob, Moses, Job, Naomi, Jesus, Paul and so many others that wrestling with God is not only allowed but desirable. It is through our wrestling with the divine – through our questioning, doubting, thinking, reasoning, arguing and confronting – that we grow in God’s eyes. We all are Israel.
Have you had an experience that you would characterize as “wrestling with God”? If so, would you consider sharing your story with the congregation? There are many ways you might do this:
* Speaking about it for about 5 minutes during a worship service.
* Writing your story for publication in the newsletter.
* Sharing photographs or artwork that illustrate your experience.
* Any other way you can dream up.
Let me know if and how you would like to share.
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A short note about what your pastor is up to: I have begun a program that leads to a Doctor of Ministry degree. The doctoral program is through my alma mater, the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in Minneapolis, and takes four years to complete. Most of my classes will be online or independent study. Three times a year I will travel to Minneapolis for multi-day sessions with the other DMin candidates and our instructors. The DMin degree is not one that is intended for people who want to go on to teach at a university or seminary. Instead, it is for people like me who want to improve their own ministry and better the practice of ministry in general. If you have any questions or would like to know more about this endeavor, you know where to find me!
May you find peace in Christ,