“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ … Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.'” (Genesis 32:22-30, NIV).
The method Jacob used here to obtain God’s blessing seems rather counter-intuitive to our innocuous efforts in seeking God. While we think we must approach God with religious formality and terminology to obtain His blessing, Jacob used an alternative methodology. Jacob wrestled with and held on to God until God blessed him.
Prior to his wrestling match with God, Jacob was in the throes of a dilemma. God had commanded him to repatriate the land He had promised to Jacob’s father and grandfather, Isaac and Abraham. But, in order to do so Jacob had to confront his estranged brother, Esau–from whom Jacob had stolen his birthright–and Esau’s army of 400 men.
Anticipating a disastrous outcome to his rendezvous with Esau, Jacob had taken his family to a safe place. Then, Jacob proceeded to a place where he could be alone to seek God and plead for deliverance from Esau and reassure himself that he was doing God’s will by returning to the promised land. There, he encountered a man (an angel or theophany) and wrestled with him all night.
Jacob knew that he was wrestling with God (or God’s messenger) and gripped Him until the man promised God’s protection and deliverance on his journey to and settlement in the promised land. Despite the man wounding Jacob’s hip, Jacob continued to grasp the man until He agreed to bless him.
Jacob was what you might call indefatigable. Indefatigable means not yielding to fatigue, incapable of being tired out. Tireless or persistence is the more common way to describe this trait. Annoying and even obnoxious is this attribute carried to the extreme.
Can you imagine this man getting a little annoyed with Jacob? Maybe the man would have preferred to punch Jacob in the face instead of inflicting a wound to Jacob’s hip…
And, the hip wound doesn’t even stop Jacob from holding on to the man!
Finally, the man demands Jacob to let him go but Jacob refuses until the man agrees to bless him. Jacob annoys God until God blesses him!
This tireless pursuit of God’s blessing may not seem very comely to us sometimes-sanctimonious Christians. It may even seem indiscreet or discourteous behavior towards God.
But, just the opposite is true. Pursuing God’s will and His blessing may actually require you to pursue him continuously, persistently, assiduously, relentlessly.
In fact, Jesus advocated this attribute when teaching His disciples how to pray. In the stories of the audacious friend and the importunate widow in Luke 11 and 18, Jesus instructed his disciples to be indefatigable–annoying, if necessary–in their pursuit of God’s blessing and will.
Therefore, let us do likewise; let us go forth and annoy God and henceforth be blessed!
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10, NIV)