July 19, 2006

Wrestling With God

1520 page5 caps a child, I was a fan of wrestling.
I would rush to the video store every Tuesday evening after school to rent the latest copy of the World Wrestling Federation. My eyes saw them all—from Monday Night Raw to WrestleMania, no match could elude my young eyes.
My favorite wrestler was Bret The Hit Man Hart. One of his best matches was against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII, in the first ever 60-minute Iron Man Match.1 This featured an hour of nail-biting wrestling. The determination of both wrestlers not to surrender was paramount, and it kept the fans on their feet, myself included. The match could have gone all night, and in the end, Bret Hart lost. I was not disappointed, because what I saw on the TV screen that night was the will of two men to endure to the end, despite how tiresome or gruesome the task.
I have parted with my love for wrestling since then, but another wrestling match bears significance in my Christian experience.
The Bible also contains a wrestling match. Like the Iron Man Match, this brawl featured two determined individuals. Unlike the Iron Man Match, however, this fight had a victor before the bell had rung. Jacob, a mere mortal fleeing the hand of his big brother Esau, was no match for the Angel of God, whom he was up against.
1520 page5Still Jacob, who had spent his time wrestling with God in prayer, was now determined to spend all night wrestling against his “foe.” After realizing he was fighting a supernatural being, Jacob still “did not relinquish his purpose.”2
Ellen White excellently describes this encounter. “The Angel urges, ‘Let Me go, for the day breaketh;’ but the patriarch exclaims, ‘I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.’”3
Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, sin has plagued the life of every individual who has trod this earth. Like death, sin holds no friend, it does not discriminate, and is no respecter of persons—“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). However, we can be overcomers. We too must be like Jacob, willing and determined to wrestle with God—not wanting to let go of Him until He blesses us, or takes away the sin we so often struggle with.
Somewhere along the line, sin blinds us and we forget there is a God who wants us to cast all of our burdens on Him. We forget that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world” (Eph. 6:12). Therefore, the battle should not be ours, but the Lord’s.
“It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them. . . . ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God.’ . . . Christ’s grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul”4 and help us overcome sin. Only Christ Jesus can surely aid us in our struggles with sin. If we genuinely ask God to help us, He will readily do so. “God’s promise is, ‘Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart’ (Jer. 29:13).”5
Recently I had a conversation with my friend Josh,* who was struggling with a particular sin.
“The truth is, I talk to God about it, but deep down inside I know I do not want to give it up,” he admitted.
Thus the problem arises. Like Josh, many of us are caught in the web of not wanting to give up sin, but knowing that we should do so in order to strengthen our relationship with God. God loves and respects an honest individual, and if we genuinely tell Him our deepest thoughts, He will help us to overcome.
We may not physically find ourselves in an Iron Man Match, or we may not be a great wrestler like Bret Hart, but one thing is true: If we are willing to genuinely wrestle with God, not letting go until He blesses us, we, like Jacob, will be victorious overcomers of sin.
2The Great Controversy, p. 617.
4Steps to Christ, p. 18.
5Ibid., p. 43.
Omar Bourne is a summer intern at the Adventist Review. He is a senior print journalism major at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee.