Have you ever watched a wrestling match? I recall watching a tournament years ago. The activity didn’t really appeal to me. The guys were hot and sweaty, maneuvering around the mat and aggressively attempting to pin their opponent. The challengers faced each other and in the struggle for victory held each other skin to skin asserting individual strength and skill. Some matches seemed unending while others came to a quick conclusion with one competitor tapping the mat to declare submission to the victor.
To “tap out” is to submit, or forfeit, a match. The term “tap out” refers to the action of tapping either the mat, or the opponent, to signify surrender.
Wrestling comes into view when reading Genesis 32. Jacob prepares to meet his brother, Esau, by sending his servants and family ahead of himself. Jacob enters the night alone. Scripture tells us that Jacob wrestled with a man until daybreak. This was one long wrestling match. Imagine the sweaty struggle. Envision the intimacy between these two opponents. They are skin on skin, exerting muscle and maneuvers. In the end, Jacob “tapped out.” He submitted to the man, receiving a blessing, a new name, and a dislocated hip. Pain and praise filled Jacob’s lips as the wrestling match concluded.
Have you ever wrestled with God?
For the past few months I have felt like I am in a wrestling match with God. I am in the midst of change, big change. Gary, my husband, launched a new international ministry championing accountability to unleash global generosity. Then recently, my health has experienced great strain. And, all this is happening while my two adult children, Sammy and Sophie, are preparing to marry the loves of their lives this fall and winter.
Like Jacob, I have found myself alone a lot. I, too, have experienced intense and intimate wrestling with God. Most of the time I’ve sensed God holding me to the mat, waiting for me to tap out. In the struggle and pinned down by His great strength upon me, my soul contended with the Lord. My being wrestled with confusion, wounds, loneliness, and betrayal. Simultaneously, I have felt far and yet so very close to my Savior at the same time. While wrestling, God invited me to trust Him, to let go and release every concern to His attention, even the feeling that I had lost myself.
Just like the man with Jacob, God did not let go of me, but gently and powerfully held me to the mat awaiting my submission and surrender. My soul grew weak; I was tired of struggling. I longed for peace and grace.
Finally, I yielded. I surrendered all that was within me to the careful attention of Jesus. I tapped out. I lay on the mat with my King holding me quiet in His strong clutches.
After months of struggle, I submitted my place and pain to the care and authority of God. It’s tough though, as I continue to wait for Him to lift me to new life. I am confident that in His time, fresh life awaits my soul. For now, however, I continue on my back, flat on the mat, stilled by the strong arm of my Savior. Peace covers me. His presence and power overwhelm me.
Have my circumstances changed? No. But, God is changing me in the midst of the struggle, hardship, and surrender. His presence is ever so close. I can smell His sweat. He has my best good in mind. He is powerful and trustworthy.
- With what do you wrestle?
- Is God inviting you to tap out and surrender your ways to Him? Talk to Him about it.
- Where do you need to submit to the purposes and plans of God?
During the struggle, I have clung to what I know to be true.
God is…Redeemer, Healer, Sanctifier, Challenger, Peace-giver, Friend, Present, Lover, Reconciler, Blesser, Victor, Real, Safe, Refuge, Hope, Trustworthy, and Faithful.
I am…beloved, forgiven, chosen, secure, adopted, known, saved, accepted, a new creation, sealed, loved, justified, alive, free, rescued, redeemed, called, and God’s temple.
Cling to the truth as you wrestle. Experience the reality that wrestling transforms us into who God desires us to become. May we each receive blessing, newness, and even physical reminders of God’s presence with us in the struggle. Let pain and praise flow from within our soul as we submit and surrender to the Mighty One, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 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. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 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.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all…
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.
Frederick Beuchner. The Magnificent Defeat. New York, NY. 1985.
Ronald Rolheiser. Wrestling with God: Finding Hope and Meaning in our Daily Struggles to be Human. New York, NY. 2018.
Lauren Daigle. You Say. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIaT8Jl2zpI The album Look Up Child has been a balm for my soul.
Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.
Aug.24-Sept.22 – Gary is traveling oversees for the next month, The longest time ever for us to be apart. I would be grateful for your prayers for the ministry God has called him to, as well as prayer for peace, protection, healing and growth for me as I serve others at home.
September 25-October 1 – Guatemala City, Guatemala
Please pray for my preparation for an upcoming trip to Guatemala. I will be leading two full-day retreats as well as speaking to multiple groups. Thank you!.