Wrestling with God

Friends in Christ, today our reading from Genesis shows us this strange wrestling match between Jacob and a mysterious figure. It says that they wrestled until the break of dawn. Jacob would become wounded, but it seems that he was winning, because this person said to Jacob, ‘Let me go.’ He replied, ‘I will not let you go until you bless me.’ Jacob named the place Peniel, which means ‘I have seen God face to face.’
.
God is pure spirit – you can’t see God. In order for Jacob to see him, and to wrestle with him, this means that either God put on flesh at that time, or that an angel as God’s messenger, temporarily assumed a human form. The fathers of the Church have wondered about this strange event. Was it an angel that Jacob wrestled with, or what?
.
St. Justin and St. Ambrose think that this was the Son of God, the Word, who made an early appearance in the world. St. Leo the Great says that this appearance was a type, a sign, that beautifully foretold the coming of Christ, who would take a true human nature.
.
This event which lies often unnoticed in the Old Testament captures very well, in it’s essence, the wrestling that we do with God sometimes in life. People of faith often experience this ‘wrestling match’ with God. ‘I got mad at God,’ someone will say in confession. ‘I was angry and I told God that I wasn’t going to pray to him anymore, because he won’t help me.’ ‘I felt that God was not with me, I asked him where he was.’
.
These are very human feelings, feelings we can have out of frustration or anger because we feel that the Lord could help us in the way that we need, but nothing is changing. But then we go back and say, ‘I’m sorry.’ ‘I didn’t trust you.’ This is to wrestle with God, like Jacob. Asking the Lord’s help, crying to him, shouting – contending with God all day in conversation and aspirations – this is a good kind of wrestling with the Lord.
.
The Son of God DID come in the flesh, so that he is not distant, but so that we can really ‘wrestle’ with him in our problems. But the Good News is, that if we hang in there and don’t give up, even if we are wounded, like Jacob, we will win. And in the end, he will bless us.

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation