She looked up at me from across the table, hot coffee warming our hands, and I saw it.
The deep, deep hurt. The kind that penetrates your soul, squeezes your stomach so tight, your body physiologically responds with nausea and shallow breath.
The kind where the very mention of it sends the emotions you are grasping to control by the tips of your fingers into a tailspin, crashing into the barrier you’ve barely knit together, unleashing the tears kept only at bay in the presence of others.
She blinked quickly. But I knew.
Because I’ve been there. Oh, I’ve been there. I know what it feels to hurt like that.
And I remembered how I wanted to scream when people told me to just move on, to just let go, to just get over it.
But then there was the story of Jacob. And how He wrestled with God.
He wrestled with God.
And I remember clinging to that story.
Because that’s what I was doing.
I was wrestling with God too.
The symbolism, the imagery is beautiful.
The God of the Universe took the time to wrestle a mere man for his thoughts, his affections, his worship, his trust.
Because the situation did not have an easy fix, it was not easy surrender, Jacob was not easily swayed. (Ugh, sounds familiar.)
Because when the pain reaches to the depths of the soul, the answer isn’t easy.
I learned something wonderfully powerful through that story.
I learned it was ok to struggle.
That it was ok that it was hard, that it was ok to hurt.
That when people minimized it by telling me to just let it go and move on, they were discounting the Lord’s work in my life.
Because the thing that caused that wrestling match … it wasn’t a mistake. It was a tool, a powerful tool used to break me. And teach me, and mold me, and refine me by fire.
And hands and knees and fists and elbows are drug through the mud. Because sometimes, God wrestles His children for their love, their affections, their dreams, their hopes, their trust, their worship.
And sometimes that wrestling match is long, and dark, and sweaty. Just like Jacob’s.
And that’s ok.
It’s ok to not just be ok.
When the God of the Universe takes the time to wrestle you and teach you and calm you, that is love. And that is grace. And you are treasured abundantly by the King.
Because it’s when you’re not ok, when you’re dirty and tired and sweaty and hurt.
THAT is when He does His greatest work.
It is when there is no strength to keep fighting, gasping for air, grabbing hold of any ounce of energy left in your sweat soaked body, drenched in fatigue, that He teaches and sanctifies; and yes, you may well be injured in the process, and it will hurt.
But you will see Jesus Christ like you have never seen Him before.
And you will be awed.
Because that pain is His work.
Because you will come to realize that He alone is your lifeline. That He alone is who you need. That He alone satisfies.
And Jacob did too.
When, at the end of his own match, he finally said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
At that moment, He understood that God alone was his hope, his life, his breath.
For it is this reason that it is a great mercy to wrestle.
Do not be ashamed of the struggle.
For it is in that very struggle, that we become desperate for Jesus Christ. And that is a wealth from which one can never be robbed.
(Some of the greatest testimonies of all have emerged through the dirtiest, sweatiest, ugliest wrestling matches. Mine sure did.)