Jacob Wrestled with God
Jacob had a hard life. With his brother Esau coming for him, he began seeing a hard future as well. Jacob might have been trying to save his own life, trying to gain the birthright that he had stolen from his brother, and trying to make God understand. He did. Mrs. White says in Patriarchs and Prophets, “But in his terrible extremity he remembered God’s promises, and his whole heart went out in entreaty for His mercy” (p. 197). Jacob sought out the only One who could redeem Him.
He fought Christ Himself for an entire night–physically wrestled with Him–and refused to give up. He refused to stop until he was blessed, and in the end we know he was. Genesis 32:28 says “And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.'” Jacob prevailed. He received his deserved blessing, yet limped away from the altercation.
Jacob was in the fight of his life, and he wasn’t going to stop until he received his blessing. He understood the cost would be great, and this is why the hip injury did not deter him. He didn’t yell at God, but wrestled with God, and spiritedly claimed he would not stop until he was blessed.
Paul Pleaded with God
Paul wanted to do great things. He had been transformed. He had been evangelizing and working for God. Then Paul receives a thorn in his flesh “lest [he] be exalted above measure.” He didn’t like the thorn. Paul didn’t like the nuisance of a physical ailment, and he was ready to tell God how he felt about it. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians tells us how he dealt with the thorn: “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me” (12:8). It was a short conversation. Paul pleaded with God three times, and God told him that His grace is enough, that “[His] strength is made perfect in weakness.”
According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the Greek word used for pleaded is parakaleó. It actually means to summon and to encourage. I can’t speak for the masses, but I can say, that as a mother I do not take it lightly when my child asks me for something three times, let alone summoning me, and then encouraging me. I suspect Paul felt he was taking a big chance right then. But, like Jacob, Paul was ready to do whatever it took to be rid of the thorn. However, in the end he trusted the Lord, and accepted His answer, that the thorn would be for his benefit (12:9-10). Paul’s experience can teach all of us a valuable lesson. Christ’s Object Lessons describes it this way:
“We are to take up the burdens that God appoints, bearing them for His sake, and ever going to Him for rest. Whatever our work, God is honored by whole-hearted, cheerful service. He is pleased when we take up our duties with gratitude, rejoicing that we are accounted worthy to be co-laborers with Him” (364).
Jesus Cried to God
Jesus, our One Salvation, our Holy Example asked His will of God. Jesus didn’t only ask God for His way, but he begged God. The scripture tells us that Jesus had sweat like blood. This was a painful moment, a stressful moment. Jesus knew what He had to do, but He didn’t want to do it! He did not enter into prayer with His Father lightly; He sweated blood! Jesus is our true example, and He knows God better than any prophet or angel.
Someone may call my mom Ma’am, or Mrs. Moore while I call her Mom, or even Tiner. You may expect Jesus to lose the formality with His own Father, but He didn’t. Jesus entered this conversation with the utmost reverence and humility, all the while staying open to God’s will and guidance, never questioning the answer he received. Could Jesus have gotten upset? Yelled even, when He got the answer He didn’t want? Jesus didn’t yell; He accepted.
Our Own Circumstances
Our circumstances dictate our behaviors too often. You may wake up happy, but when bad things happen throughout the day, you may call it a “bad day” by the time the sun sets. You may have so many bad things happen through the weeks, months, or years that you finally call it a “bad life”. This may feel true, but as God-fearing Christians we have to draw a line at letting it be true.
God is Good.
God is Love.
In Jesus’ presence the sick were healed, hearts were mended, and the dead were raised. He isn’t about hurting, and He isn’t about causing stress to humans. We aren’t some cosmic game for His entertainment. We are simply His. The fact doesn’t change that God cannot do harm. The only person to ever die in Jesus’ presence was Himself. Even then, Jesus did not yell at the Father of all. He accepted, and He died on a cross in a brutal crucifixion. If anyone would be permitted to yell at God, it would be Him, but He didn’t.
Let’s in all things follow His example.
He is Good.
He is Love.