Wrestling with God

Wrestling with God

Today’s Scripture Selection: Genesis 32:27

“The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he answered.  Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.’”

It must have been quite a wrestling match – this one between Jacob and God or perhaps God’s angel.

In the end, it resulted in a name change – and even more.

It resulted in blessing and the continued formation of a destiny which has touched the whole world.  Jacob became Israel – and the rest is, literally, history.  The end of the story is still to be written.

In our own wrestling with God, and our own struggling with others, we are on a similar spiritual journey.

Sometimes we prevail, sometimes we don’t, but the struggle always means something.  I wonder if, sometimes, we fail to see the significance of the wrestling matches as they come and go.

I know that in my own spiritual growth there have been times when I have felt in mortal combat with God. Other times I have felt in similar combat with the devil.  Still other times I have wrestled with family or friends or even with myself.

Each significant struggle has resulted in some learning though, some progress made.

It doesn’t sound like a particularly faithful thing to do – wrestle with God – but somehow I wonder if that is not how, in the end, we grow into the children He wants us to be.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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