Quite often when we are wrestling with things in life, we also start to feel as though we are even wrestling with God. Scriptures talks about the importance of perseverance in overcoming the struggles that we may face. Paul deals with this directly in his letter to the Churches of Rome.
Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Note the progression of personal development that Paul is pointing to here. What we face develops our ability to persevere, which develops our character, which strengthens our certainty in our God. There is something about wresting yet persevering that God loves to bless.
So, how do we overcome what we are wrestling in this life? How do we persevere when we feel like we are wrestling God?
Read Genesis 32:22-32
What the scriptures tell us about Jacob in the verses before this, is that he was a man who faced many struggles. He suffered from fear, anxiety and loneliness. And things were only getting worse. So, Jacob sends his family and all he has away and is all alone. When an angelic stranger appeared and begun to wrestle him. What we can see in these verses is that: it was physical wrestling, it was spiritual wrestling (with God) and it was emotional wrestling (overcoming fears and anxieties).
There are two things to look at from these verses. Firstly, that we all wrestle and have struggles. Secondly, Jesus overcomes our situations and blesses us.
We wrestle and struggle
So, Jacobs feeling miserable and lonely, when he finds himself in a wrestle. At some point, whether straight away or after some time, Jacob realises that this is more than just a physical wrestle. This is a wrestle of perseverance, this is a wrestle to overcome the old man, the deceptive anxious man.
It is ok to find yourself in a wrestle or a struggle in life. We all have times like this. We all at some point in our life have: relationship breakdowns – Church offenses – financial difficulties – feelings of isolation – Hopelessness. The question is: does perseverance in the midst of struggles and wrestles of life become evident during these times. Because perseverance builds character and character hope.
As Christ followers our life should be defined as people of perseverance. People who don’t just give up at the first sign of difficulty, don’t give up and the first sign of struggle.
Is perseverance an attribute that people see in you?
Jesus blesses and overcomes
Jacob didn’t have a chance of winning, it is clear the wrestling was all about teaching Jacob perseverance in the midst of the trials. What Jacob knew was that he wanted and needed the blessing of God, so He was prepared to persist and hang on as long as it took to get that blessing. But what he got was so much more.
This is the point where these verses point us towards Jesus. Just like Jacob, we want God to bless us, but in Jesus we get so much more… We get a new identity.
Jesus, both fully God and fully man, hung on the cross so that we no longer need to be known as hopeless, self-indulgent, anxious, deceiving and fearful people. Our identity is changed in Christ. Jacob’s identity was changed from the deceiver to the one who persevered with God. Our identity is changed from stranger to family member. From lost to found. From enemy to friend. From self-pleaser to God-pleaser.
The blessing of God overcomes our human nature and by the Holy Spirit welcomes us. Now, I am talking about more than salvation. This is an ongoing process that we must apply to every situation that we face. In the good times and the hard times, I am a new creation that perseveres till I receive the blessing of God. Because when I do this my character is developed.
It is said that we are in one of three states in life: starting a trial, amid a trial, or coming out of a trial. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we are outside of God’s blessing, it most likely means that we need to apply perseverance to grow and hang onto God until we are aware of His blessing.
God’s encouragement to us today is to be people who persevere, who don’t give up and hang on.
Who wrestle but let God define our Identity.
Who develop character that produces hope.
And that is the blessing from God that we can have hope even in the struggles.
In faith, hope and love
Steve and Cass Abram