Wrestling With God

I was working in the garden this afternoon and thinking about several different  situations some of our family and friends are currently struggling with.  One young couple just lost their 11-month baby to a cruel disease, a family member is battling breast cancer, another young father has brain cancer with 12-18 months to live, another young  couple has just learned their little 5-month old daughter has a fatal genetic disease, and a  man tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head.  Theses are hard and difficult struggles, illnesses, and situations.  In the midst of these each of these situations are hurting, suffering people-people I know and care about.  And this is just my small world.

I pray. Often I struggle with how to pray for situations and people.  Do I plead for a miracle? Do I ask God for healing when there doesn’t seem to be hope for one?  How do I have faith that can move mountains and yet yield to God’s sovereign and divine plan for my life and the lives of my friends?  Do I really believe God can do the impossible?  Does God ever change His mind? How can I know God’s will?  I wrestle.

I know we live in a sinful world. We all experience sickness, pain, and tragedy.  Someday the clock will stop for each one of us.  Sometimes I grab at faith and come up empty-handed.

I thought of Jacob.  He was faced with a frighting situation.  Years earlier he had “tricked” his brother and stole his brother’s birthright for a bowl of stew.  His brother, Esau, hated him fiercely and wanted to kill him. He fled for his life and for years lived in a foreign land where he accumulated a family and wealth.   Finally, he decided it was time to go back his homeland and father.  With his family, livestock and possessions in tow, he navigated by foot over miles and miles of dry, desolate, desert land.  And then he received word that his brother was coming to meet him with 400 men. He didn’t know if Esau was coming as friend or foe. Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed.  That night he wrestled with God.  It says in Genesis 32: 28 “Your name shall no long be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”  Jacob wrestled with God.  God touched Jacob and his hip was displaced.  He limped for the rest of his life.

I also thought of King David. His infant son became ill and was dying. God sent the prophet Nathan to warn David this was going to happen. He had committed a shameful act and committed adultery with his friend’s wife and then had his friend killed in battle  (II Samuel 11-12).  For seven days David pleaded with God to heal his son. He fasted and laid all night on the ground.  No one could comfort or reason with him. His grieving was so intense that his servants were afraid to tell him when his son died, worrying that he may do harm to himself. David became aware of them whispering and perceiving that the child had died asked them.  They took a deep breathe and told him the truth.

And then David did an amazing thing that stunned his friends. He got up off the ground, washed and anointed himself, put on clean clothes and went into the temple and worshiped.  Then he went to his house and requested food to eat.  The servants asked him, “What is this you are doing? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when he dies you get up and eat food.”   And David said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’  David wrestled with God and then worshipped.

Jesus struggled in the garden before his death to accept the Father’s will for his life.  Alone and in deep agony of spirit He sweated drops of blood.   But then he prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.”  Jesus wrestled with His Father and accepted the cross.

It is a good thing to wrestle with God.  We need to bring our problems, trials, illnesses, situations to Him. Often it is difficult to know the will of God.  Often we struggle to accept and understand what is happening. The struggle to discern, understand and accept can be a heart-wrenching ordeal.  Wrestling brings our burdens, desires, struggles, hopes, fears, and pain into the presence of an Almighty God for HIS attention and HIS touch. It is there I find hope, mercy, grace and sweet surrender.

I remember a time of deep wrestling for me.  Our son Greg was probably 6 months old. He had a genetic disease called Werdnig-Hoffman Disease (SMA Type 1).  He could not move his arms and legs or roll over. He could not even move his head from side to side.  I had a friend who kept saying, “If we just believe and pray enough, God can heal Greg.”  I believed in a God that healed and I believed in a God that did miracles.  I also knew that Greg had a fatal disease and there was no cure or survivors. He would not live to see his 1st birthday.  I wrestled with God.  It was a difficult faith dilemma that I struggled to come to peace with.

One day I laid Greg on the kitchen table and took my other two children along to the barn to get a jug of milk.  We were only gone a few minutes and Greg, alone in the house, was safe on the table-so I thought. After all he could not move-not one inch. When I walked in the door my heart about flipped out of my body.  Greg was laying on the floor, crying with his weak, pitiful cry, gasping for breathe. I picked him up and held him tight.  In that moment something very precious happened. I did not hear an audible voice but something spoke deep to my spirit.  I knew in that moment that God could heal Greg.  I also knew that He would not chose to do so. I will never know how Greg got on the floor (although I have my opinion) but I do know my wrestling was over.  I was free and at peace.

The wrestling of other people will not spare you from your own wrestling.   As I read and hear the stories of other people of faith it gives me courage.  When I pray for others, I ask for miracles.  I also ask for God’s presence, peace, wisdom and understanding.  In our wrestling, God comes near and dear and we, in some way like Jacob, David, and Jesus,  experience His touch.


  1. JoannCoggins Said:

    I Love reading all the blogs that come from the farm,this lady is so truethful,brings hope formy life….

  2. Ruth Hochstetler Said:

    This blessed me! Thanks for taking the time and effort to share this.

  3. I read all your blogs ,and show the picturestomygreatgrands loveJoannsoblessedbyyourshareing!!

    • Pat Said:

      Thanks Joann. It is always interesting to know who cares to read your writing!!!

  4. Kendra Said:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I get discouraged some days with the why questions and the seemingly unanswered prayers and the wrestling with faith in a good God and acceptance of God’s will when it doesn’t seem good. Your words blessed me.

  5. I truly appreciate your blog and am blessed with your entries–they(especially this one)grow me. Thanks for taking time to share so deeply. You are a blessing!

{ RSS feed for comments on this post} · { TrackBack URI }

Leave a Reply