What else could it be but revenge? Jacob calls out to God, and so began one of the most strange episodes in the history of the people of God.
Night came. Jacob was alone. And a man was there. They wrestled until light returned.
"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.Jacob had received a promise, and just as that promise appeared to be coming to an end, he begins to strive with God. The blessing he receives as a result is a name, but it is an immense name that came to define the people of God: Israel, "he who strives with God."
Then he said, 'let me go, for the dawn is breaking.'
'I will not let you go unless you bless me.'
So he said to him, 'What is your name?'
He said, 'Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.'" (Gen. 32:25-28)
If the church is, as Andrew Kirk once said, "an enlarged Israel," (as opposed to a "new Israel"), we still carry this name, though we rarely invoke it. It still marks us, even if it is only a latent marking, like an indelible tattoo on our back. What else is the church, but a people who strives with God? Surely the history of the church, and Israel, bears this out. Faithful men are those who are continually wrestling with God, through prayer seated in the heart; through fasting gnawing at the body; through earnest and tireless supplication. They are faithful people, continually submitting themselves to "the sharp compassion" of the wounded and wounding hands.
What else is apostasy, but refusing to wrestle anymore? It is turning instead to wrestle with an object of wood, stone, paper, or plastic–– one we think we can dominate. An idol lets us believe that we define the rules and set the boundaries of engagement. It lets us think it will bend to our lustful clawing hands–– although in a treacherous twist, we all find ourselves crushed in the end.
Wrestling with God is different. It means He sets the parameters. It means knowing we will walk away limping–– a difficult prospect, for none like pain, and most will refuse Him for it. But in wrestling with Him, we will gain our fitness and our blessing. It is the only way we can be prepared for the rigors of His glory and our joy.