I’ve been in a bit of a wrestling match with God lately, to borrow imagery from Jacob’s story in Genesis. He wrestled with “a man” all night and when the man saw he couldn’t prevail over Jacob, he simply touched his hip socket and put it out of joint. It’s widely held that the man was God or, at minimum, an angel sent by God. Who else could put a hip out of joint with just a touch?
Anyway, as the sun was beginning to rise and the man said he had to go, Jacob said he wouldn’t let him leave unless he blessed him. In response the man gave Jacob a new name, Israel, because he had “striven with God and with men” and prevailed.
Interesting that Jacob was said to prevail against God, when the man put his hip out of joint with a touch. Do you imagine this man could not have overtaken Jacob and won? Do you think he was unable to leave without blessing Jacob?
I don’t think so.
None of us could actually prevail against God, but we can be persistent and choose not to give up. I believe that’s why Jacob was said to prevail – he didn’t quit, even after his hip went out of joint, apparently. He walked with a limp for the remainder of his life.
If we live this life and wrestle our questions and troubles out with God, we, too, will walk with a metaphorical limp. We simply aren’t the same after we are forced into asking hard questions.
Where many people seem to go wrong is that they quit asking, quit wrestling, quit seeking God. They just harden their hearts and settle there. I believe He wants us to bring him all of our questions, frustrations, confusion, anger and pain.
One thing that has become important for me to remember is that Jesus told his followers that if they had seen him, they had seen God. Jesus is the lens through which we look at God. How did Jesus respond to pain and confusion? He didn’t walk away from honest seekers. He answered them, he brought relief, he wept, he restored, he told the truth, he exposed hearts – and he did sometimes say things that were difficult to hear.
The only people He seemed to shut down were the ones who already thought they had it all figured out. The ones who knew all the things but still missed the point. The ones who were setting up obstacles between men and God.
I can openly admit there are many things I don’t understand. Many of my assumptions and certainties have been shot to hell, and you know what? It’s hard but it’s really freeing.
“I don’t know.”
It’s not an answer we like to give, but say it with me one time: I don’t know.
There’s a humility that comes with not knowing all the answers. I know I have a long way to go in that department but I hope I’m becoming a more pleasant and loving person along the way.
I don’t have to debate you. I’m not going to wrestle with you over it. I will save my wrestling for God and submit to walking with a limp.