Can Wrestling With God About Your Illness Lead to a Blessing?

“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. . . . 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 the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.'” (Genesis 32:24,26)

“How do you cope with your illness?” I have been asked. My reply? “Faith and stubbornness.”

Have you ever felt as though you are in a wrestling match with God over how your illness is going to impact your life? This week I have been dealing with a bad rheumatoid arthritis flare that has frozen up both shoulders, my neck, hands, and knees. I fight to get through the nights and then I fight to get through the day. The medications that help make me barely functional, yet I cannot lay down because I cannot get up without help. My husband had to go to work; he had strep throat last week so missed a few days.

I am to have my first infusion of a medication tomorrow at 8:30 AM. I have had to reschedule three times due to other infections and need to get it into my system! Yet, arising at 7 AM will be very difficult, my husband and I will drive my son to school at 8 AM, likely get to the infusion center by 8:45 (late!) with rush hour traffic, and then the infusion lasts 5-6 hours.

Did I mention our babysitter moved away recently? And on Fridays my son gets out of school at noon-ish? So in the next 17 hours I need to find and interview a babysitter who I trust to pick him up from school, in her car! I have posted the “job” on a service I use, but the idea of not even meeting the woman first makes me very nervous.

Kristin Chenoweth, broadway star and television actress shares in a recent story with Guideposts magazine that she deals with an invisible illness, Menier’s Disease, “an inner ear disturbance that causes vertigo”–though it is a life-changer in the pain and nausea it causes.

“One of my favorite Bible stories is when Jacob wrestles with the angel. He won’t let go until he gets the angel’s blessing. ‘You seem so happy’ people say to me, and it’s true, I’m usually upbeat. Still, staying positive takes work. It doesn’t always come easy. I get depressed, I gripe, I get into the perfectionist’s funk. And yet I’m thankful every day. For my family, my friends, my career, my voice, even for setbacks and struggles like this nasty disease that I wish would go away. I believe in wrestling that angel to the ground until I can claim my blessing.”

This week I have been in a wrestling match with an angel–I know God wants His very best for me, but it’s taking everything in me to fight for it! Every few hours my illness threatens to get me down–literally as my knees won’t unbend, and figuratively, as I want to just want to give into the blues.

But there is a blessing in all of this, and I am determined to get it. I want to be the kind of woman that, when my feet hit the floor, Satan says, “Oh no, she’s still going!”

Verse 29 says, “Then he blessed him there.” God blessed Jacob even though he wrestled with God. There are times we cope with our illness admirably, with grace and quiet gratitude. And then there are times we wrestle with it, using our stubbornness and strong will.

Both can lead to blessings from God. Silent surrender has its place, but if you are wrestling with your illness, don’t forget it can still lead to a blessing. You aren’t wrestling with the illness per se, but wiJust don’t forget to ask God for it!

About the Author:
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and author of Why Can’t I Make People Understand?. If you haven’t read it yet readers have said it’s a life-changer! She is struggling lately with her illness, trying to parent well, and all life gives her. This particular idea of blessings in the wrestling is refreshing to her!

* Guideposts, October 2011

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What are you wrestling with God about lately? Have you seen blessings come out of it? Have you remembered to ask God to bless you in the wrestling of it, rather than waiting until you feel you have “got it all together?”

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