Some things remain a huge mystery tome, no matter how hard I try to understand – wrestling is one of these. A while ago I forced myself to watch a documentary about its history, hoping to gain understanding, since I have friends and family who are endlessly fascinated by it. They call it a noble sport, praise the beauty of the footwork and the good use of energy in a clever hold. They tell me not to take it seriously, that much of wrestling is staged for the spectacle of it all, but I can’t laugh –all my soul cringes at what it perceives as violence and brutishness!
There is a fascinating story of a wrestling match in the bible – and it certainly was no laughing matter. We all know the story so well. One night, when Jacob was all alone, a strange Man came to him and without a word, grabbed him and started to wrestle with him. I can imagine that Jacob was gripped by fear – who wouldn’t be? But he put up a real fight and according to Genesis 32, they struggled until dawn. What made Jacob fight so hard? He certainly could not have known that this encounter would be the making of him and the naming of a nation!
Just before sunrise, accepting that Jacob would not submit, this God Man damaged his hip but Jacob held on for dear life. In desperation he cried, “I will not let you go till you bless me!” His blessing included a name change – Jacob “the deceiver” was no more; and “Israel”, expressing the concept of wrestling, clinging firmly to God, and overcoming, was born.
As I look back over my life, I see my own “wrestling matches” with new eyes. So often, painful spiritual battles have been the birth place of blessings I did not know I needed. I am coming to understand that being changed “from glory to glory” is only for those who will hold on to Him and not let go!