There are times I want to ask God questions-not like, why is the sky blue or what is the purpose of platypuses-but the hard questions. Things like:
- where are you when spiritual leaders are being corrupted?
- why aren’t my eyes healed?
- when are you going to show up and prove yourself to doubters?
- was it part of your plan for me to lose a baby?
These type of questions put me in a spiritual wrestling match with God. When Job questioned God, he was met with 4 chapters of God’s reply. Job finally concludes that God can do all things and that no plan of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2). Which made me wonder, is there a right way to wrestle with God? Jacob seems to demonstrate that there is since he is blessed at the end of his encounter in Genesis 32. How was Jacob different than Job? Jacob came to a place of Jabbok.
“That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone and a a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” -Gen 32:22-24
Jabbok (ya-boke) is a Hebrew word that means emptying. Jacob empties himself of everything-all of his earthly valuables- people and possessions, and is left alone. I think there are several lessons to learn here:
- We cannot question God with heads, hearts or hands full of our own agendas, explanations or expectations. When we want to wrestle with God we must approach him emptied of ourselves, otherwise we may not hear him because we are too busy listening for the answer we want.
- Wrestling is not a team sport. Not really. There might be a school wrestling team, but each man goes on to the mat alone. We cannot merely show up at church or talk to other people to gain answers and insight from God. We must purpose ourselves to get alone and “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)
- Wrestling with God can be a long process. Jacob wrestled until daybreak- I can’t even wrestle with my one-year-old for five minutes, let alone a grown man! We must build spiritual endurance. We must be willing to let our relationship with God get a little messy. I’m sure Jacob was a wreck by daybreak. Most of the time I am just not willing to fight that hard for a blessing.
One important thing I am learning in this season is that I must come to a place of Jabbok. I have so many questions I want to ask God about my past, about myself and about Him. But I know I will not truly hear His voice unless I first empty myself of me. All of me, even the things I think are so valuable to my Christianity: the right choices I’ve made, my education, ministry experience, etc. I must have empty hands and open arms if I am to wrestle with God… this can only happen if I come to a place of Jabbok.