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Wrestle It Out


Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Genesis 32:26



A wrestling match between Almighty God and sly little Jacob. I bet that was a sight to see even with God disguised as a Man. An armbar here, a half nelson there. What was the point in all those takedowns and twisting each other around like Bavarian pretzels when God already blessed Jacob a few chapters back? I will give to you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. And your offspring shall be as countless as the dust of the earth and you shall spread abroad to the west, to the east, to the north, and to the south, and in you and in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And behold I am with you and will keep you in all places where you go . . . [i]

Perhaps God wanted to try out some new wrestling moves. I suspect He can pull a few out of His sleeve if need be. Better yet, maybe a certain slick-handed someone needed schooling in a more respectable approach to obtaining God’s promises. Or Jacob needed his memory jogged. Or it could have been that this was an all-out clash of the two wills. Or Jacob’s frantic, last-ditch effort to seize the blessing that had thus far eluded him.

People will contend for something they want. The stronger their desire to possess, the greater their energies in going after it. Trouble is that desires get dashed.

People will contend against whatever threatens their getting what they want. Opposers beware! You’ll have a fight on your hands if you get in their way. But when opposition becomes fierce and fulfillment repeatedly eludes them, that same determined person could end up settling for second rate or give up altogether the hope of receiving that which they’ve set their sights on.

Then there’s contending with God.

Okay, so we’ll meet up with some God-ordained resistance. No surprise. The very word contend means to strive, or to strive against; to struggle in opposition . . . to use earnest efforts to obtain, or to defend. Contending is what Christ followers do. We contend for the faith. Contend in prayer for others. Contend for the winning crown. Contend with the enemy. Contend with our flesh. Even contend with God for our promised blessings. [ii]

Who dares to contend with him that is mightier than he? [iii] Jacob dared. He went for it. The gutsy scrapper was all in as he wrestled around with his maker. There’s nothing like a good-ol’ wrestling match with The Lord to get one’s faith muscle pumped. Muscles atrophy if they're not used. The same goes for faith. God designed faith to be used, or it dies. Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. [iv] Contending with Him resurrects dashed desires; it puts the fight back in us when we find ourselves on the brink of giving up.

I’m not suggesting we contend with God in all-out defiance—unless you care to see the short end of God’s long stick. [v] When heaven and earth aren’t lining up as we imagined, God invites us to Come, let us reason together . . . Wrestle things out with Him and see what happens. Isn’t it better to contend with God for something we deeply desire than to walk away offended? Especially when contending with suggests there's a partnership involved. [vi]

Contending with God is Jacob saying, I will not let you go unless you bless me! and Hannah, weeping bitterly, pouring out her soul, praying to the Lord that He might give her children. It's Jeremiah’s, Righteous are You O LORD, when I complain against and contend with You, Yet let me plead and reason the case with You . . .

Contending with God is the widow crying out day and night to the unjust judge. [vii] It is Job pouring out his complaints to God. It's Moses pleading Israel’s case before God, and Amos crying out, not once, but twice, O Lord God, forgive, I pray You, How can Jacob stand? For he is so little! when God revealed His upcoming judgments of locusts and fire. [viii]

Jacob contended with God and with men and he prevailed. He hobbled from the earthen wrestling ring, the declared winner.

Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have contended with God and with men and have prevailed. [ix]

Someone once said, “Change isn’t change until something changes.” Contending with God brought about change, not to the blessing, but in the recipient. No longer was Jacob the underhanded trickster who played dirty to get what he wanted. That cycle of deceiving and being deceived was broken. He was Israel (contender with God), a man who goes after, who struggles God’s way (honest and aboveboard), while contending against all that threatens his receiving what God promises. [x]

Jacob was powerful with God. He gained favor with God. He carried great authority in God—all because he stuck it out in an all-night wrestling match with God. I’ll wager his persistence throughout the dark night of his soul is also what turned the tide for him with men (his brother and brother-in-law), as well as paving the way for future generations of believers (that would be us!) to receive the promised blessings. [xi]

Paul said, I fought the good fight; I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. [xii]

I’m saying nothing new in this blog. We’ve all had to contend with God at some point. I just needed to wrestle it out with Him again.


[i] Genesis 28:10 – 13 [ii] Jude 1:3; Romans 15:30; Colossians 4:12; 2 Timothy 2:5; Psalm 127:5; Proverbs 28:4; Genesis 32:28 AMP [iii] Ecclesiastes 6:10; Isaiah 45:9; Isaiah 50:8; Job 41:10 – 11 [iv] James 2:17 [v] Isaiah 45:9; Job 9:1 – 4; Genesis 6:1 – 3 [vi] Isaiah 1:18; 2 Corinthians 1:20 [vii] Genesis 32:26; 1 Samuel 1:9 – 18, 20; Jeremiah 12:1 – 4; Luke 18:1 – 8 [viii] Job 3, 6, 7, 17, 22 – 25, 30; Psalm 106:23; Exodus 32:7 – 13; 33:14 – 16; Amos 7:1 – 6 [ix] Genesis 32:28 NASB [x] 2 Timothy 2:5 [xi] Genesis 32:29; Genesis 31:20 – 24; Genesis 33; Genesis 28:10 – 13 [xii] 2 Timothy 4:7 – 8; 1 John 5:4; Romans 8:37; Matthew 25:21

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mechelle.mercy
mechelle.mercy
12 Ιουλ 2023

Mmmm. You are so clear!

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thomasdickerson2023
12 Ιουλ 2023

Really loved this outstanding job Debbie

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ritapearl55
12 Ιουλ 2023

Thank you for this timely word. Somedays, it feels like I am constantly contending with the

Almighty! In the end, I receive the blessing if I hold onto FAITH!!👑

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gab.fullofhope
12 Ιουλ 2023

Very good and timely word for me...

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stephencanup
stephencanup
12 Ιουλ 2023

Amen, Debbie, great insight. I appreciate your pointing out lots of great contenders in the Bible to serve as examples and inspiration to us!

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