+ Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost +
October 17, 2010
…a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. Genesis 32:24.
What is wrong with me? Why am I having these struggles in my life? Will they ever go away? I’m getting weary of this struggle. Do any of these sentiments sound familiar? Once you have been in the new life of Christ more than a few months, you quickly realize a mysterious paradox or tension that makes us uncomfortable with ourselves, and tends to pull us to extremes. Despite our desire and many attempts to prematurely resolve this tension, our life of faith needs to be seen as a gracious struggle in Christ.
1. The struggle takes place in a context of grace.
a. We overemphasize our struggle. Our efforts, our hours of prayer, our
dollars given, our years of bible study, and service add up to the blessing of God.
b. This life can be seen as a gracious struggle. Jacob’s struggle as one left alone.
2. The life of grace never comes without a struggle.
a. We overemphasize grace – Christianity is easy! Struggle and suffering do not belong here.
b. This life can be seen as a gracious struggle. Israel = one who struggles with God! His vision of God comes slowly, painfully and mysteriously. After a long night’s struggle, the man is revealed to be more than a man. With a dislocated hip, Jacob painfully holds on, crying out for blessing. Even after God’s blessing, Jacob is named “Israel” and continues to live in a gracious struggle with God. Though Jacob has seen God, God still remains a mystery (Jacob’s request to know his name is never answered) and this God becomes known as the God of Israel, as Jacob builds an altar to the God of those who struggle.