Wrestling with God, Others, and Ourselves
Thursday, November 10th
& Sunday, November 13th
7-9 Mountain Time
Hosts: Dan, ,Mark, & Kajsa
Do you wrestle with God? with others? with your own self? I know I do, and I wonder, so often, what is wrong with me because I wrestle with God. If “contention is of the Devil,” or if a “committed disciple of Jesus Christ” doesn’t doubt, then is it even appropriate for me to wrestle with God?
Jacob’s story in scripture is remarkable. After years of complex family dynamics, he finds himself alone, and “wrestles with a man” until the early morning hours. At a first blush, Jacob was “alone,” implying that the “man” may well have been his own self (Genesis 32:24). In Hosea’s interpretation of the story, Jacob wrestled with an “angel” (Hosea 12:4), but ultimately, Jacob’s own assessment of the wrestle was that he wrestled with God, “face to face,” and his life was preserved (Genesis 32:30).
Some aspects of this story don’t compute in the Christian and LDS idea of God as being “all powerful.” The Hebrew word for “man” in this verse, “ish,” implies an equal partner, as in when Adam expresses his equal relationship with the Woman in Genesis 2:23, or when Hosea speaks of moving away from calling God “Lord” in Hosea 2:16. The nature of the wrestle God, as an equal partner with humans, does not “prevail” in this encounter, but rather, both God and Jacob get down and dirty, into the “dust”, as implied by the Hebrew word for “wrestle”/”abaq”. God does not prevail in this encounter, but rather, Jacob persists and prevails, and is given a new name of “Israel”: one who struggles (“Isra”) with God (“El”) and prevails. Jacob is not condemned for getting down and dirty with God, but rather, is blessed by the man/angel/god, because Jacob had wrestled “with God and humans and has prevailed” (Genesis 32:28).
Wrestling with God, others, and self became Jacob’s identity: Israel.
In this month’s Latter-day Faith Virtual Fireside, let’s discuss our wrestles with God, others, and self. In an open discussion, let’s share our experiences, or challenges, and our hopes as we grapple with the complexity of our relationship with God. We may address questions like these:
- Is it appropriate to be angry with God?
- Can we hold God accountable for our and others’ suffering?
- Is there a difference between “wrestling” and “contending?
- How do we have hard conversations with ourselves, with others, and with God?
- How is “wrestling with God” related to “shadow work?”
- How can we turn our wrestle into hope without denying our authenticity?
Thank you for joining us – Stay tuned for next month’s fireside!