Wrestling with God

September 17, 2013
by Lori Ciccanti

Genesis 32:24-30 – Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." (NASB)

It was not until my husband was diagnosed with cancer, nearly two years ago, that I understood the desperation Jacob must have felt when he wrestled with God. During that time, my prayers turned into tears, but with little strength in my spirit, I wrestled with God too, not willing to let go until He pronounced a blessing. Then, to my surprise, one Sunday in church, our call to worship began with the following responsive reading:

Leader: Sometimes, O God, we feel like Jacob, wrestling with angels.
People: Strengthen us.
Leader: Sometimes, we feel battered and broken.
People: Touch us.
Leader: Sometimes, we grow so weary in the struggle.
People: Refresh us.
Leader: Together, let us seek the face of the divine.

With those words, I felt as though the Lord were speaking directly to me, letting me know that my prayers had not been in vain. Like Jacob, holding on for dear life, I succeeded in obtaining the Lord's favour. Though, in a manner of speaking, a joint may be out of place, the blessing far exceeds the struggle; perhaps now more than ever, I have experienced God's power through adversity.

To me, the most awesome part of Jacob's story is that the man with whom he wrestled is identified at daybreak as the Lord Himself. Some Bible scholars refer to this experience as an Old Testament Christophany: a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. What is more amazing is that the Lord lets Jacob have the upper hand; thus, Jacob wins the wrestling match!

It is revealed in the Gospels that God has given His Son all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore, it is Jesus who grants us this blessing. It is He who stands in the gap between us and the Father, and it is He who pleads our case before His Father's throne.

Today's Scripture is a great illustration for those struggling with any type of problem. Hopefully, Jacob's example of faith and perseverance will strengthen our hearts to receive a blessing as we seek the face of the divine.

Prayer: Lord, we acknowledge that You alone are the true and living God, a God who desires to interact with Your people. We thank You for Jacob's awesome testimony — a face-to-face encounter with You. We praise You, Father, for the incredible love that allowed Your servant to strive with You and prevail. Please give us the strength to do the same. Then, at daybreak, we, too, shall be blessed by the light of Your countenance and the peace which overcomes the world. In Jesus' holy name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Lori Ciccanti <dlalsina@mchsi.com>
Ocean View, Delaware, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Good devotional Lori.


    Great word this morning Lori. Thanks for sharing. Blessings.


    Thank you for your devotional this morning. Amen to your prayer.


    Thank you for your devotional this morning. It was in tune with my thoughts and prayers. May God continue to bless you


    Lori,
    God bless you. You are such an inspiration.


    Thank you for your devotion today. I am a Stephen Leader and I think this would be helpful for our Care receivers. Blessings.


    Oh, Lori!
    Thank you for writing to us! Yes, when we wait in trust, we DO receive answers to the cries of our hearts.


    Lori,
    There’s a song in our hymnbook not from our church’s origin which starts: “Come, O Thou Traveler unknown”. It’s based partially from your scriptures.


    Awesome message Lori. Thank you for sharing.
    It is timely too, helping, not only, me but I can share it with dear friends who are struggling in a painful manner.
    May the Lord bless you and keep His countenance around you.


    What a powerful testimony, Lori! Perseverance in prayer is so important. The Lord is waiting for us to intercede for ourselves and others; if only we would let Him get involved. May your testimony increase our faith to do the same. Thank you so much for this heartfelt word.


    Good word Lori!
    How is your husband doing?
    I pray an even greater blessing to come your way,
    In Jesus’ name.


    Good morning,
    Thank you for this Devotional. Like you I have had health issues over the years, I have been praying and still remain faithful that my deliverance will come.
    May God continue to use you as you share His Word with many.


    Thank you for your encouraging Devotional. It is as though you were writing it especially for me! I have come through a very difficult time this spring/summer, which included life-changing surgeries, and many medications, which have drastically affected my hearing and sight. Without the loving care of Jesus and my wife, I would be totally lost, and probably institutionalized. Let us all pray together for the continued love and blessings from our Saviour Jesus. Amen.


    Thanks for the devotional Lori,
    I too am doing my fair share of wrestling. My surgery date is on hold now because I need another procedure first and I don’t know where I am on that waiting list. So I am obeying Moses and standing still and quietly waiting to see the salvation that will most assuredly come. Your submission encouraged me.
    Blessings.


    Dear Lori!
    Thank you for Jacobs story. Your story.
    With Jacob saying: “I will not let You go before You bless me.” Thank God for those divine matches with the Lord that leave all earthly dim in the glory of God.
    Blessings with healing to you and your husband! Amen in Jesus name!


    Dear Lori:
    Thank you for your wonderful words of encouragement.
    I am giving a testimony in my church next month and I pray you will allow me to use parts of your testimony in mine. I have had a broken leg for several months and I would love to share God’s amazing grace with our congregation.
    God bless you as you continue to write to us.


    Hi Lori,
    My wife just read your devotional and she said that’s how she felt when I had my first heart operation — a feeling of such helplessness, not knowing what to do or what to expect.
    I had my aortic valve replaced and it lasted for 18 years. It was replaced again last year.
    She knows how you felt.
    Thank you for your words of inspiration.


    Lori, thank you for sharing your great gift. It really spoke to me this morning. I have been doing my share of wrestling and maybe it is time for a blessing. I praise God for the miracle in your life!!


    Lori, thanks for writing this. I’ve also been wrestling with God’s direction. Your devotional touched a cord. Blessings.


    Dear Lori,
    Thank you for your devotional.
    I am sorry to hear of your husband struggling with cancer. I do pray that the Lord would continue to strengthen you and your husband through this time.
    My aunt years ago struggled with breast cancer and we all prayed for a successful operation to remove the cancer and she went into remission, and has now been doing well for quite a few years. Then my father got liver cancer and we prayed for a year for healing but the Lord gave him the ultimate healing by taking my father Home. The decisions that the Lord make we on earth may never fully comprehend but I am so glad that I don’t have to try to figure God out but to trust Him fully.
    But, like you, I did go through the struggling process. Even though I know my father is safe in Heaven and in no more pain, I still have days (even years later) that I miss his presence. But the Lord helps me through those times as well.
    Keep on trusting the Lord.


    It is amazing to me that God works through so many, like you, to give us His comfort and His instructions. Thanks be to God.


    Lori,
    Great devotional. I really appreciate your testimony relating the story with Lou and Jacob. Again the Holy Spirit is working through your writing.
    Thanks again.

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