The wrestler

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Prepare

Prepare by finding some space to be alone today. Try and get rid of the distractions – the mobile phone and the radio – to be alone with God.


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Bible passage: Genesis 32:22–32


Jacob Wrestles With God
 22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."
      But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."

 27 The man asked him, "What is your name?"
      "Jacob," he answered.

 28 Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."

 29 Jacob said, "Please tell me your name."
      But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.

 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."

 31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Audio Bible passage


The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


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Wrestling with God
It’s interesting that Jacob has two of his most intimate experiences of God when he is alone (see also 28:10–17).

Jacob knows where he must go in the morning. He will face his brother. He knows that his brother might seek revenge. His life and the lives of his family are in the balance. And so he spends the night wrestling with God asking for a blessing. Jacob’s desperation is shown in his refusal to let go of the ‘man’ until he is blessed.

Pursuing God
This story foreshadows Jesus’ anguished wrestling with God in Gethsemane, which blessed us through his decision to go to the cross. Many of us hesitate to argue, or wrestle with God. But being a follower of Jesus is not just about being saved but about pursuing God, in prayer.

After this encounter with God, Jacob is left physically weaker with a bust hip but he is in fact stronger, having been blessed by God. He goes back to his family and his responsibilities, ready to face the music, knowing God’s favour.


Respond


Perhaps this passage is a challenge to wrestle in prayer over something in your life, asking for a blessing, or a break-through, or simply the courage to press on. Perhaps you could pray while using a punchbag!

Andy Frost


Deeper Bible study


In these few verses we find Jacob being taught a key lesson. It is God who held Jacob’s destiny in his hands, however much Jacob tried to do things his way. ‘We too face the need for radical realignment of our lives. There is a call, which will never go away, to work consciously against the “me first” mentality which is so ingrained in our human living, and to align our hearts instead with a deeper sense of gravity, who is God, our only solid ground.’1

This well-known wrestling match reveals a God who engages with us intimately, face to face, with sweat and effort and relentless purposefulness. It points us forward in time to the crucifixion, where God himself bleeds, sweats and feels intense pain in the intentional pursuit of our salvation. However, because we don’t see or touch God physically we can have an image of him as a remote and somewhat emotionally reserved figure. Familiarity with our faith – and the sometimes colourless expression of it in Western Protestant church services – can reinforce this distorted image. Scripture, on the other hand, often describes God in visceral terms – as a God of passion, who feels deep emotion about his people (Hosea 11; John 11:33–36; Luke 13:34), and works through the earthy reality of the world he created.

Take a few moments to imagine you are observing this wrestling match. What do you see? Now imagine you are Jacob. As the bout continues, how do your feelings and perception of the one with whom you are wrestling, change? As with Jacob, God creates opportunities for us to choose not merely to wrestle with him – and some of us need to risk doing that (!) – but also to recognise afresh our absolute dependence upon him as the one who holds our destiny in his hands.

Fran Beckett

 

1 Margaret Silf, Wayfaring: A Gospel Journey into Life, Darton, Longman and Todd, 2012, p47


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Read the Bible in a year:

Job 18,19

Luke 19

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Audio


Back to the start (God's great dance floor)
Performed by: Martin Smith
Written by: Martin Smith, Nick Herbert Jonas Myrin & Tim Hughes
Copyright: © 2012 Gloworks Ltd, Kingsway Thankyou Music, Shout Publishing/BMI
Buy this and other great songs here

I've dreamed my life a thousand days (Rain)
Performed by Y Friday
Written by: Ken Riley
Copyright © 2001 Thankyou Music


Comments
  • Rachael Hampton | Tuesday, 26 July 2016

    We know, as Jacob knew, that God is with us. We have His promise and like Jacob, have seen the evidence. Yet, like him, when faced with big things that will or could change our lives, we find ourselves needing to wrestle with God for assurance of His blessing. Praying for all in this situation today, and also for those who feel too weak to wrestle. May you have faithful pray-ers who can contend for you, and encourage you to hold on to this amazing compassionate God Who cares enough to be wrestled with!

  • Rachael Hampton | Tuesday, 26 July 2016

    It sounds as though you've had a lonely time of it EILEEN. So good to hear from you. We pray you will keep improving and become more stable in your health.

  • Thelma Edwards | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    Having spent a disturbed night wrestling with the onset of a head cold I start this day with reminding myself that 'God is in this place'. We are off to Don's for two more days of trying to make his home habitable after years of neglect. Sore throat, runny nose, thick head are very real symptoms unwelcome at this moment in time and I don't want to infect my brother or other workmen either. But God is in this place and I want to go through this day with him where He is and depending on His provision, protection and wisdom. I want to be 'God with skin on' for my brother and know how to practically serve and love him in his dementia. So Lord, over to You........

  • Adam Julians | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    Deeper talks about the need both to risk wrestling with God and recognise our dependence on him. So, facing fear of being honest with God to the point even of being angry with him and at the same time having the humility to surrender to his will. Have you ever done something like this and realised a change in you, the you weren't the person you thought you were? I grew up with undiagnosed dyslexia and being told I am lacking in effort, complacent and careless, I was diagnosed 7 years ago. Which was great as it explained the reason why what I was told wasn't true. At the same time it left me angry that this had happened and not really knowing who I am because of the false things said to me. Looking back this had been masked with achievements, to the point of even becoming conceited at times. For this is what our culture esteems. Recent events with wrestling that I have shared have been healing the the sense of being able to walk away and not care after standing up for myself. But then old thought patterns can come in with doubt. To be honest, all of this can be exhausting. I see why Elijah was exhausted after Mt Carmel and outrunning chariots and just wanted to die. So yes I concur, there is the need for risk at times but also the times to be dependent on God. I guess with my background I find the former easier than the latter. I find it difficult to not perceive doubt or weakness as a lack of faith (which of course neither are) but instead an indication of dependence on God which we all have. So, I guess I'm having it affirmed to me recently about strength but also it being OK to be needing God's provision when that strength or feeling of strength is not there. Someone once said the hard things about trials is that the test comes first and the lesson after.

  • Lynn Creation | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    Praying for you THELMA and EILEEN, may you both know the strength of the Lord through His joy, and love today.

  • Lynn Creation | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    ADAM, I don't have time to read you comment now, will come back to it.

  • Adam Julians | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    OK

  • Eileen Smith | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    Thank you RACHEL & LYNN. Praying for you THELMA-- colds can make you feel so low & seem to dull our thinking . I pray that the Lord will bless you with a clear mind & that you will feel Him carry you as you sort things out

  • Brenda Hill | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    #Biblepassage:Genesis32: 24 "So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak." Working with MBB's it is so easy to help them financially & emotionally but there comes a time when they have to wrestle with God themselves to grow and strengthen their faith in Him as each one of us has had to do - but discerning that time is important for them and for us. Thank you Lord you are the one who gives wisdom and your timing is perfect, Give Thanks with a grateful heart https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMTmZKotTYw May you know His perfect timing in situations today in your lives my W/L family. Blessings.

  • Brenda Hill | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    Praying for you both THELMA & EILEEN - may His grace flow.

  • Ethel Cunningham | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    DAVID . Catching up. Open Doors has a short specific daily prayer guide and bi-monthly magazine . Both are very helpful encompassing persecution of our Christian family all over the world .Can be sent to you via. www.opendoorsuk.org

  • Derek Forster | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia! Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia! Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluia! Christ hath opened Paradise, Alleluia! Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia! Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia! Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia! Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    When I was growing up I was told I'd always be fat and that I was thick and I couldn't sing. I think the list is endless. I have no truck with any of that now because my identity is in Christ and that is sufficient. I did wrestle with some of those things, like my weight yo yoing for years but since I've come to believe the Word and known the truth of who I am in Christ I never let Satan near me with words of condemnation. I am normal weight, got some O levels after I came to faith. Although when someone once asked me if I was an alto I replied 'No, I always sit like this'

  • Eileen Smith | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    Thank you BRENDA. I came back to re read Respond & can now add to others' comments on previous days ,that your message didn't come into my inbox this morning while all other comments did --. .think you said you wanted to know.

  • Adam Julians | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    Gilvin, you are normal weight, have some O levels and "when someone once asked me if I was an alto I replied 'No, I always sit like this." Haha nice one. The irony of me having a "disability" with dyslexia is that I am in the top 1% of the population for ability with vocabulary and abstract reasoning and I have earned a reputation as a hard worker. I was told I would never fly and I have a private pilot's licence. Weakness being alchemised into strengths and joy?

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    ADAM, I expect we all have stories to tell of how God has changed us dramatically. It is rewarding to know we didn't achieve change by ourselves but by the grace of God. Until I had the curse broken over me I would not have known the freedom there is in Christ. I mentioned the weight one because after I came to faith it's the one I prayed about most as if I lost weight I would immediately put it back on again. It was a revelation from the Word that formed the change in this and every other hang-up I carried around for years. They say life begins at 40 and it certainly did for me. It was a personal encounter with Jesus that is on going and how I rejoice in God my Saviour, El Shaddai God Almighty. All sufficient God.

  • David Chipchase | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    Adam, I really appreciate the honesty of your comments. I get your comments about doubt being able to sneak back in and the exhaustion of struggle. Also, I don't think I want to challenge you at Scrabble or Words with Friends!

  • Ann Boldock | Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    I think we all need to all wrestle with God sometimes and it is in the quiet times we meet with him. Sometimes when he has been silent then he surprises us.

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