July 20th 2010

Life Is A Wrestling Match

“How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?”
Psalm 13:2 (NIV)

The Bible uses various analogies to picture human life. Life is a journey, or a marathon race. But what about life as a wrestling match?

One literal wrestling match in the Bible took place between Jacob and a mysterious stranger (Genesis 32:22-32). We are not told exactly who the stranger was, but the Bible suggests that Jacob actually wrestled all night with God, and “won” the match! (Verse 28). Jacob claimed a blessing, and was given the unusual prize of a new name. As a mark of his determination Jacob’s name was changed to “Israel”, meaning someone who struggled with God, and “won”. The new name stuck and was passed on to the nation that descended from him.

What does this mean for us today? Are we expected to wrestle with God? Maybe not in quite the same literal way, but Isaiah 64:7 (NKJV) tells us that God respects the individual who “…stirs himself up to take hold of you.” The context is calling on God for help. David certainly did so in Psalm 13, and many other Psalms. These Psalms display his doubts, his disappointments, his despair and his anger. He argues, reasons, and cries out in anguish to God. His prayers can sometimes be an emotional roller coaster, a literal wrestling match with himself, his feelings, and his Lord.

David often spoke of unnamed “enemies” who were out to get him (Psalm 13:2-3). Do we ever feel the same way? As Christians we have plenty to wrestle with such as difficult relationships, alien values in society, and human weaknesses, especially our own.

But Jacob and David are not our ultimate example: Jesus is. Remember how Jesus “wrestled” in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane before his arrest and crucifixion? Because of that we are told in Hebrews 12:3 and 4 (TNIV) “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

Wrestling isn’t always great fun. We may not welcome it, or feel like it. We don’t go looking for it but it finds us all the same. The trouble is that a wrestling match with one of our ‘opponents’ can catch us unprepared, and only when the opponent begins to pin us down do we realise we are out of condition.

How do we get in training? By wrestling with God instead. Wrestling with God in prayer means crying out fervently for the help we need, being totally honest about our inadequacies, and not letting go until we know God has received and rescued us.

Prayer
Dear Lord, you are our rock, our strength, and our salvation. Hear us when we cry, strengthen us to fight our many battles, and encourage us to keep looking to you and never give up.
Amen

Study by Gordon Brown

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