Are you struggling with something or someone? There are many obstacles in life.
Most battles are a battle of wills. I want to do something. Someone else tries to stop me … or vice versa … someone else wants to do something and I try to stop them.
Sometimes we may struggle with ourselves. The part of us that vowed to diet comes face to face with that big chocolate brownie. The struggle is on. If we end up eating it, we may say we have no will power.
Sometimes we become aware that we are struggling with an unseen foe, who is trying to defeat us. That enemy is real.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Paul’s words are true. Satan is real and he will use a variety of tactics to defeat us. His favorite is to lure us into fighting each other. When we believe the enemy is another Creation of God, we don’t see satan at work.
But is it also possible that the One with whom we wrestle is God Himself?
Genesis 32:22-32 tells the story of Jacob, who encountered a stranger. He wrestled with a man all night. In the morning, the man ended the struggle by appearing to give in.
But the man touched the socket of Jacob’s hip and wrenched it. Then the man commanded Jacob to let him go.
Jacob then did an interesting thing. He told the man he would not let him go unless he blessed him. Wouldn’t this be an interesting strategy to try on our enemies? Ask them to bless us!
And the “man” did indeed bless Jacob. He asked Jacob his name. Jacob answered. The man then did a major “reveal.”
The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
God could easily have subdued Jacob at the beginning of the struggle. Why let him continue in the battle all night? Why does God allow us to struggle with Him to get answers and solutions to our problems?
The baby inside the womb, the chick inside the egg, the soon to be butterfly in the cocoon all struggle to move to the next level. Why?
Meeting resistance allows them to strengthen the parts of them needed for the next task. Resistance training builds muscles.
Sometimes when we are opposed, we come to know what we believe. When we are able to speak our beliefs, we feel the strength of our convictions.
And sometimes having struggled, we have more mercy and tolerance for those who are struggling. Sometimes perhaps God lets us take a memory of the wounds we sustained in the struggle. Sometimes they are visible to others. Sometimes they are not, but we can choose to share them.
Jacob likely came away from his struggle with a limp. It may have opened the door to his being able to tell others of his struggles and how he found God there.
If you are going through a struggle, stop and ask God who it really is you are doing battle with. Whatever His Answer, He will be right in the midst of it and He will be on your side!
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.