“And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Tell me, I pray, your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Peniel, limping because of his thigh. ” Genesis 32: 24-31
Have you ever been so frustrated with God for not giving you understanding? Not for the hard time you’re going through–we’ve sat through enough sermons on James; we know better than to expect roses–but for the times when you’ve truly sought Him on something and not found Him? Poured over Scripture, sought Godly counsel, even hauled out a concordance to try to make sense out of something, and your mind just doesn’t want it to click?
In case you couldn’t tell, I have. And it hurts, it hurts deep in my core because I know that God’s ways are higher than mine and that His plans never fail and that I need to trust and obey but man it is hard to look at something in faith, and not be able to reconcile it with your mind. To know that God is Truth so the error must be in your mind but you’re not sure where, and you end up just crying because you don’t understand, and why can’t God just tell you. There are a couple things I don’t get, that I’m not sure I ever will, not on this side of the Jordan. And that’s okay, normally, I just take it in faith and say eh, He’ll explain it to me in heaven, when scales fall off my eyes.
Tonight was not a mature time for me. I was searching through Proverbs and Ephesians and Colossians and I knew that I didn’t understand and that I wasn’t likely to, but rather than just turn it over to Jesus, I let frustration sweep over me. And it bubbled and bubbled, and though I was begging God to help me to understand, I heard no still small voice. There was no writing on the wall, no echoing truth, no resonance anywhere. I was just lost and frustrated, and it felt like God wasn’t bothered by that.
But He is faithful when I am not.
And no, didn’t send an angel, and He didn’t carve it on glowing tablets. He didn’t come down to wrestle with me, releasing when I begged him. Instead, He gave me the prayer of someone beside me.
I didn’t realize until that moment how strictly I had tried to bind God.
I’d told Him how and when He could answer me: now and undeniably. I demanded that He spoke, and in my confusion I thought I was seeking Him. I thought I was open, but I was closed off to any response other than one like the one I’d imagined.
But in His grace, He had mercy. No whisper, no parted sea, just mercy.
As a friend prayed for me when I couldn’t, God reminded me gently that He doesn’t just work in mysterious ways, but that He works in mysterious time. Just because He hasn’t revealed Himself now doesn’t mean He never will. Just because it’s not apparent to just me, doesn’t mean Truth is still hidden when others join me in my search.
I think of Jacob, begging for a blessing as his hip was displaced, and God granted, and I mistakenly think that is the only way that God reveals Himself to His children. That blessings immediately follow struggle and that our ask is God’s permission. That if I cry enough or seek enough, if I just wrestle enough, that I will cross a threshold where God is now able to bless me.
Jacob wasn’t blessed because He fought and tired God. He was blessed because it was God’s time for Him to be blessed.
I still don’t get it, by the way, the thing that I was stressed to the point of tears. I couldn’t cry blessings out of God, couldn’t rush His time with my hurt. That’s not how He works. He preserves us, and allows us to glimpse Him, and when the time has come, He blesses. With understanding, with the desires of our heart, with answers to prayer. And maybe that comes in a quiet conviction, or maybe it comes with someone who will push you closer to Jesus. Maybe it’s a new light on a verse you’ve read a thousand times, maybe it’s someone praying when your heart is too tired. No matter the way, the time is certain, and it is the Lord’s.