Those who wrestle

God gave a name to God’s covenant-people: Israel. The same name God added to Jacob, who wrestled on the banks of the Jordan with “a man” and demanded a blessing from that one.

Isra-El, Wrestler-of-God.

I don’t know anything more than this. I expect that to know would be another of those large research projects I invariably end up with when I wonder. But I wonder:

Is God-wrestling something we children of Israel do that others do not?

Is it our wrestling that makes us God’s beloved people?

Because really, one of the things that has struck generations of believers is that God puts up with a lot of negative behavior from God’s people. Think of coping with millions of surly teenagers, who “know” what to do, skulk off to their rooms, snap at conversation, and snarl at directives given to bless the life of the household. (Like ‘take out the trash.’) Who chooses to put up with this? So many times God could have thrown up hands and said, “I’m done here. I’m out of patience, and out of ideas.”

What a blessing for us that God’s immortal and omnipotent, huh?

But…
God-wrestlers. God called us God’s wrestlers. A name is identity, particularly a name you gain as an adult. We are marked as those who wrestle God.

Those who have free choice (will, intention). Those who ask questions. Those who dig, those who move beyond a shrug and a “well, I guess God said so,”

who try to lay bare the heart of God? Maybe?

I didn’t have an easy, breezy time parenting teens. Nevertheless, I enjoyed those teen years on a lot of levels—and am enjoying the move into the early 20s even more.

Because I love this wrestling.

Mom, why do we do this? Mom, I’ve been watching, and what I see isn’t fair, so I’m going to do it differently. Mom, how do people even manage to come up with such a thing?! Mom, what do you think? Well, I can’t do that. That’s impossible!

I love the interplay of their ideas. Love observing them deepen, widen, take apart, put back together. It’s extra fun when they come around to a place I’d already arrived…even if I took a similar path to get there. It’s part of their beauty and variety, and watching never gets old for me.

Perhaps our wrestling with God is part of the beauty and variety God created—on purpose. Perhaps it’s that last bit of chutzpah that God treasures in us: we argue and struggle and fight, we are clearly losing, and still we say:

I will not let go until you bless me.

Bless me, o LORD.

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