Jacob wrestles with an angel.

Wrestling with God

A good friend recently came into my life with a barrage of issues that seem to have compounded upon themselves a thousand times over. My heart has grown heavy for her as I listen to her struggles. She has been plagued by so many crisis situations and problematic events recently that she could probably fill episodes of a daytime soap opera for the next ten years.

However, I knew that in her moment of frustration there was nothing I could say that could ever take away the years of pain she’d been subject to throughout her life.

Sometimes, God gives us much more than we can ever handle.

The only encouraging thing I could think of saying in this situation was this—that our circumstances never define who we truly are. Dr. Tony Evans once spoke about those who attend Alcoholics Anonymous and are required to introduce themselves with, “Hi, I’m (name) and I’m an alcoholic.” He says, no, you are not a by-product of your situation, you are first and foremost a child of God. Accepting the previous as the only thing that defines you, allows you to be further dominated by the negative circumstance that has gained a footing in your life.

Friend, if you are one of these people in the world who is going through a sucky situation I want to remind you of something. As I told my friend, you yourself have got a lot of love to offer this world. Right now you might be blinded by rage, blocked by hurt, or wounded by tragedy. But one day you will be able to see all that you have to offer this world. And when you do, your new life apart from your past can truly begin. There are a lot of people out here suffering just like you. But if you allow yourself to be used by God in a positive way, created as a positive impact upon this world, your ability to overcome your situation will serve as a great inspiration to others. And as a result, you just might be able to save someone else’s life—and soul—from death.

“I did pray to God about my situation. But these obstacles are driving me nuts. Sometimes I want to complain to God…is it ever enough yet???”

Good. He heard it. Keep doing it. Bang down His door and demand to be let in. Don’t ever throw in the towel and quit. Here’s why…

In Genesis 32:22-32, there is a story about Jacob, who is at his wits end. There are those who want to hurt him—bad, real bad; as in death. Jacob is lost, confused and hurting. He’s in a crisis situation. He reaches out to God, begging for His help.

Enter a stranger who further adds to his situation and things soon get (meta)physical. Jacob wrestles with this stranger all night, until finally the stranger, realizing Jacob isn’t going to ever let him go, invokes a supernaturally charged blow to Jacob that dislocates his hip. Now Jacob, realizing this isn’t just any stranger, hangs on even tighter, refusing to let go until he receives a blessing in return—an answer to his cries to God for help.

As a result of Jacob’s faithfulness to not let go of God, the angel gives him the blessing—changing his name from “trickster” (which is what “Jacob” means in Hebrew) to “Israel”—the start of his destiny in creating a great nation. In the Bible, whenever there is a name change, this is a HUGE deal, because it signifies a change in character and duty.

However, this blessing comes at a cost. Physically, it injured Jacob in the process. But since Jacob was transformed by the struggle and the ensuing blessing, it changed his whole perspective on the injury itself.

To Jacob, the injury was just another reminder of how staying faithful to God may hurt at times, but the reward transcends the pain and allows a person to look PAST the pain.

So go ahead and get passionate in your prayers. Let God know how bad you’re hurting. Be completely honest with your feelings and let Him deal with it.

A lot of times, when I find myself in a crisis situation or an incredibly frustrating situation, I will pray something like…

“Okay Lord, so YOU have put me here…now what do YOU want me to do with all this? I know You have a plan here, but all I see right now is pain and not much of a plan. I’m trying to trust You, but it’s incredibly difficult to do because I’m in such turmoil! So calm my heart and grant me the wisdom I need so that I can have clarity in the plans You have in store. I desire You to guide me and lead me in this situation, because right now, I’m a mess and I have no idea how You are going to turn these issues into my good and your greater glory.”

A lot of people don’t realize that they can come to God with ALL of their frustrations and just unload. Remember that Jesus is someone who suffered like we suffer. He went through all of the pains we experience so He knows what it’s like to feel plagued by negative circumstances and disappointing people.

Yet, a prayer of spiritual passion is what delights God because it demonstrates an ability to seek Him out with all your heart. It is a mark of spiritual maturity, so don’t be afraid to explore this in your own spiritual prayers and see what happens!

As James 5:16 alludes to, the effectual prayer of the righteous man can accomplish much. The word “effectual” comes from the Greek word meaning “energy.” So this is energized praying. It’s praying from true emotion and heart and soul.

In 1 Kings 18, the prophet Elijah prayed earnestly and became super-ordinary. And in doing so, he shut down the sky. He prayed biblically. He also prayed specifically. He prayed humbly…and persistently…and expectantly.

So don’t toss in the towel, friend. You have a lot of people rooting for you. Here on this earth, and beyond. Trust Him with what you’re experiencing and never let Him go without receiving your blessing.

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