Have you ever met a strong person, not physically strong, or strong-willed and stubborn, but the type of internal strength that brings peace to everyone around them? In any situation they’ll know just what to do, they never panic, they always keep their cool, and always seem to have an ability to step outside of a crisis and see the big picture. These people tend to rise out of the ashes over and over again, despite the fires, and the third degree burns. We call them strong.
Often, these “strong” people have gone through a lot of tragedy and trial in their lives, and we are in awe at their strength. I know quite a few men and women who have this resilience and courage, and I always feel so safe in their presence, don’t you?
Recently someone called me ‘strong‘, which was ironic because on the same day I was called strong, I had a total crazy woman emo crisis, and I thought to myself “why does everyone keep calling me that?!” If they only knew how ugly my ugly cry is.
Then I realized, it’s not because I’m physically, mentally, emotionally (we’ve established that), or even spiritually stronger than them, it’s because when it comes down to it, I’m a loser.
Jacob Wrestles With God
That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants 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 man wrestled with him till daybreak.When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
I then realized that it wasn’t genuine strength in me that other people were seeing, but a woman who had wrestled God and lost.
It’s kind of like screaming “Uncle, Uncle!” when your arm is twisted behind your back. At first you wrestle with all your might, then through the experience of trial and hardship, you learn to scream “Uncle!” before it even begins..
“Okay God, I quit! You win! I surrender!”
Often people hype up the term, “surrendering to God” as this beautiful wave of the pure white flag, ‘look how Holy we are surrendering to God’. But the ugly faith truth is, is that often our surrender comes out of desperation just so God won’t kill us!
Okay, you know I don’t mean that literally!
What I mean is, our first reaction to any trial is usually “Why God! or God NO! or God how can I fix this?!” This is when we wrestle, and this is when and where we always lose.
Tell me this isn’t true? How many of you have walked around with an injured hip like Jacob did, after trying to fight or resist God? Raise your hands hiiiiiiigggghhhhh!
Through miraculous prayers, and even through painful unanswered prayers, we learn, sometimes a painful truth, that God always wins, no matter how hard we fight. We eventually learn to stop wrestling God, and we sure as heck learn to surrender quick. This is what people perceive as strength in others, but more than not, the strength you see is pure surrender to the will of God.
I remember so clearly the day I took my baby boy home from the hospital, not from his birth, but from his time in ICU on life support. I was a single mom at the time, and had just given my landlord “crying notice” that we couldn’t afford rent and had to move, then my son fell ill. That night, nervous that my son might stop breathing again, and there weren’t nurses or doctors to rush in. I tucked him into his crib, and stood anxiously over his bed. I went over and tucked my three-year-old sleepy daughter into her pink sheets and kissed her head, she’d been through so much. As soon as they were both asleep, I stood frozen, flooded with trauma, with fear, with awe at how God rescued my baby from death, I cried from the reality of how crappy my life had been, how supportive the body of Christ was, and how new this whole God thing was.
I remember standing, dead center in the room, wrestling between the old me, and the desire for a new hope; my daughter on my right, my baby boy to the left – when this tidal wave of emotion swept over me, and I fell to my knees.
“You win God, I can’t do this by myself. I don’t know how to put my life back together. You win, I’ve got nothing”
Then I surrendered.
Through trials and suffering we learn that
No matter the outcome, no matter our self perceived righteousness, no matter our wresting moves, no matter how much we think we can control life
The sooner we accept this, the sooner we develop surrender (disguised as inner strength)
I have had to surrender many times in my life, and every time I get to that place, and I let Go and let God just be, and then my life FLOURIS
I Wrestled God…Lost..Bought the T-Shirt… It Reads…I surrender.