A Season of Wrestling by Natalie Gibb
And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,[b] for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. Genesis 32:24-29 ESV
I could easily insert my own name for Jacob’s into these scriptures right now. You see, this has been my life since November. Life threw me a couple of curve balls in the form of denial of good things for my children, and people just being fallen people. The details of those situations don’t really matter. Needless to say the aftermath was that I felt alone. I felt abandoned. I felt left behind and I felt that my children had been left out. It is a pretty isolated place to find yourself, and it doesn’t feel good!
On top of all those feelings, there was this internal struggle between heart and mind. My heart wanted to lean into all those feelings, but my mind told me that I wasn’t alone.
I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5 ESV
My mind told me that my Lord and Savior was fighting for me and that this was part of His story, but my heart didn’t trust it.
The Lord will fight for you: you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14 NIV
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 ESV
I know all of these scriptures and can recite them by heart, but my heart just didn’t quite believe them in this season.
I am six years into this journey from when my husband committed suicide and left me a young widow and single mother to two young and amazing boys, and I am still learning. I stand before you solely by the sheer will of God’s grace and the promises found in those scriptures I mentioned a few minutes ago. I know that there is no way in my human flesh that I could have done what He has called me to do over these past 6 years. He has comforted, strengthened, restored, healed, and redeemed so much of my past and I thank Him daily for it. But the journey is still hard…
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18 ESV
The plain truth of my situation is that I am beloved daughter of the one true King who is so thankful for all that He has done, but I want Him to do more. I don’t want to be single. I don’t want to do this alone. I don’t want to sit and watch my children struggle with the fact that there is not a consistent male presence in their lives and the consequences that go with that. I don’t want to, and if I am not careful, that mindset can become my focus and my purpose.
Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on Earth. Colossians 3:2 ESV
I recently found myself sitting across from a dear friend and fellow widow who had lost her husband about a year after I lost mine. She was also struggling with keeping perspective and trusting God’s sovereign plan. She asked me the questions that I had been asking — no, yelling — at God for the past couple of months.
Why do we have to be alone? He is supposed to be this great big God, why doesn’t He send us someone? Why do our children have to cry at night and walk this painful journey? Why doesn’t He just fix it?!?!
I found myself hearing her and my mind started answering those questions while my heart hung on every word that the Holy Spirit Himself gave to me to speak into all those deep wounds. I found myself saying, “We have to remember this is not about us. Right now we have a myopic view of our suffering and it feels like it is going to last forever, but this is just a season. I don’t have the answer to why, but I know this is His plan and I trust Him to bring it to completion. There are things to learn in these wounds and we just have to have eyes to see Him at work in our situation. He loves our children more than we do and we have to know and trust that He will work all of this out for their good and His glory. And at the end of the day, I think the real question we need to be asking is: why do we think He is not enough?”
I sat back in stunned silence because there it was…the root of all the wresting and the tears and the emotion. Why did I not believe that He was enough? Why did I think that a man could stand in substitute for My Jesus? Why was I looking around for a fallen human being to step into the shoes of the Savior of the World?
I wish I could tell you that I have arrived at my answer as to why I would ask any of those questions. I have partial answers and I am still pursuing the full answer. I trust that together Jesus and I will seek and learn together why I don’t feel fulfilled by Him. And I know that while I am seeking and searching He will be right by my side leading the way healing and restoring as we go, because that is what He does. He allows us to wrestle with Him. He allows us to get mad and ask the hard questions, because in the seeking and wrestling we find more of Him. The healing goes deeper and the restoration continues.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10 ESV
Will I still have days where I wish I was dating or married to an earthly man? Yes, I am sure that I will, and I am sure my wrestling days are far from over. But what I know now is that if I have eyes to see Him actively working in the lives of me and my children, ears to hear His word and a heart to seek after the Spirit that resides in me then the wrestling always leads to a more profound knowledge of Him and a sweeter and deeper love for the lover of MY soul. That is a space that no human man will ever fill and that is a space that is ONLY reserved for Jesus. The really cool part is that He doesn’t just leave me there, He lets me go on to be a part of His kingdom. As I sat across from my sister in Christ I watched her open her own eyes to see more of Him. There is always purpose in our pain. We are comforted so that we may comfort others. In fact, on the very day of the six year anniversary and two days after I had lunch with her, I came home from a Bible study which reviewed the beginning parts of Romans chapter 8…coincidence? I think not! And I sat down to one of my favorite devotionals. This was the scripture that I read that day:
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Isaiah 40:1 ESV
The devotional ended with a quote from John Henry Jowett:
God comforts us not to make us comfortable but to make us comforters.
So I am officially done wrestling because quite frankly, there is work to be done in this lost and hurting world, and as believers He has entrusted us to work in the fields. If I need to wrestle and ask the hard questions I have learned that is ok, but I can’t stay there. I need to seek Him and find His answers and His will while I wrestle, and then get up, dust myself off, and get to work! The world needs more of my Jesus — after all, He has overcome the world, and I am His ambassador as many of you are too! If you are wrestling right now in the season that you are in I encourage you to find the answers that you need and then trust and believe that He wants you representing Him to this world in the field that He has called you to.
So I get what Jacob was saying in those opening scriptures. He needed to wrestle with God to flesh out if He really was who He said He was, and afterward, God called Jacob blessed for asking those hard questions! I claim that blessing myself because I am indeed blessed. One day I hope I can say that part of that blessing is a deeply happy and satisfying marriage to a wonderful man, but if it isn’t in the cards for me that is ok. Jesus has never disappointed me up until now and I know in my heart and mind that He never will. I will pursue the fact that He is more than enough for me now and forever, and I will make every effort to let the world know He is more than enough for them, too!
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 37-39 ESV