In Genesis 32 there is a strange little story most people miss.. Jacob finds himself alone out in the country and suddenly there is a “man” who shows up and starts wrestling him… They fight all night and when it gets to the point neither of them is winning the stranger touches Jacobs hip and blows it out of place! Jacob gets the guy in some kind of headlock as he goes down and they’re both stuck there… The stranger tells Jacob to let him go because the sun is coming up, and Jacob replies that he’ll hold on until the man “blesses” him.. so the man says, “your name will no longer be Jacob, you will be called Israel because you have fought both God and men and have prevailed.” The man vanished and the nation of Israel limped away. We’re told he named that place Peniel, because it was there that he “saw God face to face and yet his life was preserved”.
Have you ever been angry at God? Or just angry? Hurt? Scared? I have. There have been times, today in fact, that I literally screamed at God… I cursed and cried and pounded the steering wheel while I was driving.. I wasn’t cursing God, or yelling at Him for anything He did… I just had to let it out… and God is big enough to take it. Did you hear it in the story? God shows up one night as a man and lets Jacob fight with Him! Jacob is told he “prevailed” but he knows the truth is the his life was spared! The fight ended in a tie, even though God could have crushed him with a thought. Sometimes God’s best attribute is His ability to listen, and sometimes, that means taking a punch from one of His kids when they’re upset..
The fight was never fair. This was a toddler punching his dad in the leg… and the dad tells him how strong of a boy he is… while winking at his mom! God is our father, he loves us infinitely, and he knows exactly how we feel, all the time, about everything. He knows when the world gets us to the point that we need to explode.. we need to scream and swear and hit something big and sturdy.. so he comes down and wrestles with us until we’re all worn out. He doesn’t come down and pin us to the floor, he wrestles… like a dad with his kids…
…so today I screamed and pounded, and even cursed at God… I don’t know if you’ve ever cursed in the middle of a prayer or not, but it was honestly one of the most real moments I’ve ever experienced with God… I think it may have been the first time I’ve ever truly let everything out at Him at once.. He already knew how I felt, but there was something peaceful and freeing about truly laying my heart open in front of Him… swear words and all.. so many times we think we have to come to God in a neat little bundle, hands folded, eyes closed, all the right words in the right tone of voice… but I think God would rather get the real us.. the broken, angry, terrified, hurting and confused, just as we are.. since the car ride home from church this morning something has been different between me and God.. like a little connection was made… would it be wrong to call it a friendship? God is still God, He’s still Lord of creation, King of Heaven and Earth… but today I came to realize that He’s also here as my friend for me to vent to and scream at and cry with and wrestle with.. and when I’m left just an exhausted, sobbing pile on the ground, He picks me up, looks me in the eye and says “Ryan.. I’m sorry, I know how bad it hurts… but I love you and I will never leave you.”