A few weeks ago, the message at church was about Jacob literally wrestling with God and God giving him a new name and identity. Jacob has been dealing with some hard things and plans to spend the whole night alone praying, but God interrupts his plans to come and wrestle with him. Jacob demands a blessing, which pleases God, and God delivers.
“Your name shall no longer be called Jacob [deceiver], but Israel [strives with God], for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed” (Genesis 32:28).
I've been thinking a lot lately about Psalm 46. It is all about God's sovereign power and how He is with us through anything we go through, and how He will always win. He won against Jacob because after the match, Jacob changed his ways, lifestyle, and lived up to his new identity. At first, though, Jacob was headstrong and wanted his own way.
Thinking about times in my life that were difficult, or where I wanted my own way, I think about how I've spent so much time wrestling with God. He always wins. I have been headstrong and wanted my own way and begged Him to comply, but more often than not, He has said "No, I have something different for you."
And it has always been better than what I could've planned.
I wanted my first teaching job to be at Southwest. It wasn't. I was crushed. The Lord had other plans.
I grew in leaps and bounds as a person, and spiritually at Andrews High School. I also made some lifelong friends, including one of the best friends and spiritual encouragers I've ever had (or will ever have).
I wrestled with God over many things while I was in grad school. Right before I moved to Boone, I experienced a horrible breakup. My first week in Boone, we found out my uncle had stage four lung cancer. A few months later we found out our 14-year-old family dog had cancer. She passed away, and a couple months later, so did my uncle.
I wrestled with God over these things. They were hard. I didn't want them to happen.
Looking back on that time in my life, it has been (so far) the most pivotal time as far as spiritual growth. I learned how to truly rely on the Lord and His will and guidance and judgment and power.
I learned how to truly identify as a Child of the King and "live like I'm loved."
I learned how to truly praise Him in life's storms.
I learned how to say, "And if not, He is still good."
I learned that His plans are far better than the ones I create for myself, although it never seems like it at first.
I learned that even if He doesn't answer right away, or in the way that I want, awesome things can still come from the situation.
I learned to truly "rejoice in trials," for they bring about growth and endurance.
I learned that truly, when I am weak, Christ's strength is shown.
I wrestled God, and He won. He won because I grew in Him.
I went from 'saved' to 'filled with the Holy Spirit.'
I was broken, so He could fill me.
I became sanctified.
For my students' warm-up today, I had them write about a time when they didn't want to do something, but they did it anyway, and they were glad they did. They all had various stories about how they did something difficult or daunting, or something they just plain didn't want to do, and how they felt better after.
That's how it is with God, often times. His will might not line up with our own. But if Jesus Himself had to bow to His Father's will, how much more should we?
Usually when you do something God compels (or forces) you to do, you find out afterward, you benefit in some way if you let your heart be open to the opportunities and blessings that come with the situation.
AND, in Psalm 46, we are reassured that through it all, the Lord will be with us through the fire, as a shelter, through the fiercest battle.
Going through things with Him by our side will only bring us closer to Him.