Today’s post is from guest author, Pastor Rob Rynders:
Perhaps my favorite passage in the Book of Genesis is from chapter 32, the story of Jacob wrestling with God:
22 The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ 27So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ 28Then the man* said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,* for you have striven with God and with humans,* and have prevailed.’ 29Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him.
I resonate so strongly with this passage becuase my own relationship with God has been one of struggle. When times are good it’s easy to know God as a loving and compassionate God. When things are difficult, though, it can be hard to simply say that “this is all part of God’s plan.”
I believe that we humans have an immense amount of freedom and choice in this world. I believe God’s plan is for us to be loving and compassionate beings,to be in loving relationship with God and with one another. Sometimes, though, I just want to tell God what a pipe dream that really is. Some days I want to yell at God and some days I wouldn’t mind getting an opportunity to grab a hold of and shake God while screaming “what’s the point of all this?”
That’s why this passage means so much to me, because it tells us that God is a God who can not only handle our anger, dissapointment, questioning, and confusion, but God indeed encourages it – “for you have striven with God and with humans, and prevailed. Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him.”
Life is not about being perfect, not about not being disappointed, or about never suffering of going through a hard time. It’s about the lessons we learn from those times and how we respond to them. It’s about knowing that God walks with us during those times and that God is there to blame if we need someone to blame, not because God causes pain and suffering, but because God suffers alongside of us. It’s also about knowing that God won’t hesitate to push back and remind us that sometimes we’re our own worst enemy.
I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have the perfect relationship with God, but I do know that God is there to struggle with us and help us move forward. For that I am thankful.