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“The patriarch, Jacob, in the Old Testament, spent the better part of his life avoiding the true question of his soul. He stole his brother’s birthright and fled his wrath. Though he was the heir of the promise, he sought to find it somewhere else (working for his father-in-law, Laban). It was not until he decided to return home and face his brother, and to face whatever God would have of him, that the “question of his soul” came into focus. The last night before crossing the river and coming before his brother, he was met by an angel (or a manifestation of Christ?). He wrestled with him all night declaring, “I will not let you go until you bless me!” He was “blessed” when the angel withered his thigh. But in the wounding he received a blessing – a new name – that of Israel (“he who wrestled and prevailed”). Jacob did not know that he was Israel until he came face to face with the question: “Will you bless me?” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“This world is the broken place and we are broken within it. This is the hard and devastating word I learned through my illness, the word that comes to each of us born into terrifying and lovely existence. In a world wrecked by sin, our pain is the crucible in which we will work out our faith. No human story is exempt from grief. There is no faith without the wild ache of impossible questions. To wrestle with God—to grip him like Jacob with hungering, angry hands—is the work of every person born into a fallen world. This is what it means to be human and follow God….But the way we wrestle will shape the whole of our story, and Beauty tells us what we are wrestling for.” (Sarah Clarkson)

“St. Paul calls on the believers in Rome to strive together with him in appeals to God. The root of the Greek word for “strive” means to contend as wrestlers fight fiercely in the public games. Thus, St. Paul urges the Romans to pray like Jacob did when he wrestled with God (Genesis 32:28) and like the Lord Jesus who prayed in the Garden in such anguish that his sweat became as great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). The prayers of the Roman believers are so crucial to him that he “exhorts” them; that is, he strongly urges them to join him in the urgent pleas to God. Paul’s appeals for prayers demonstrate the importance of our prayers for and with one another. The scriptures are full of instructions for believers to pray for one another and examples of requests for such prayer. Such mutual appeals are the first and essential expression of our caring for one another. And the more desperate the need, the more fervent the supplication should be.” (Fr. Basil)

“…the true Christian has no enemies at all on this earth, but only brothers and sisters suffering from the same afflictions which also torture us. May each of us strive to live always according to the words of our Savior: “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Amen. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6:12)” (Hieromonk Gabriel)

“The point of our wrestling is that God Himself has arrived in the midst of our sorrow, a gracious Savior who gives Himself into our desperate hands and teaches us what it means to grip the reality of our salvation, our restoration to glory. In God’s hands, we wrestle toward hope, we fight our way onward to fresh belief…I wrestled, but it wasn’t with God: it was with the ideas that obscured Him.” (Sarah Clarkson)


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