I’m a classic conflict avoider. I hate conflict. I run from it. I don’t argue or fight. I like to be a peacemaker.
Three years ago my husband and I were on our 25th anniversary trip to Europe. We were in London not long after the London Bridge terror attack. The city was on high alert. One sunny morning we were on the top of a red double-decker bus touring the city and we heard a commotion. My husband stood tall, camera poised, keen to find out what the noise was about. In contrast, my natural instinct was to crouch low between the bus seats, head ducked in my arms. Eventually I was persuaded to poke my head up and see the police, guns drawn, arresting someone on the street across the way. I was pleased when the traffic lights changed to green and we were able to safely move on.
I often bring this same ‘duck my head and crouch low’ attitude to violence in the Bible. I skim over the passages and turn to the next chapter believing there is nothing for me to learn here. I don’t do conflict!
I was recently reading the passage where Jacob is preparing to return to meet his brother Esau after many years. When the twin brothers parted it was in anger, after Jacob swindled the blessing meant for his brother on their father’s death bed. Jacob had a history of dishonesty with his brother, but after years estranged, he was returning home to reconcile. You can read the whole account in Genesis 32.
On the night before Jacob and Esau were to meet again, Jacob sent his family on ahead and spent the night alone in the camp. All night, he wrestled with a man. “So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak” (Genesis 32:24 NIV). This is where I would usually turn the page. Nothing to learn here. But God prompted my spirit, so I sat and prayed, and asked God to show me what He wanted to teach me through this passage of scripture.
Jacob wrestled with a man all night. Imagine that for a moment. Physically fighting with another person, hour after hour. Punching, holding, grabbing, turning, rolling, like a choreographed fight in a movie, but for real. I can hear the slap of flesh on flesh, smell the sweat, taste the blood. The idea repulses me. I don’t understand why. What kind of person fights with a stranger all night?
Then, as light begins to dawn, they call a truce. “Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’” (Genesis 32: 26 NIV)
I sat with this statement for a long time.“I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Is it okay to fight for a blessing?
For me, blessing posture is passive. Arms open, palms up, eyes closed, lips smiling; a bit like a renaissance painting of a saint. Quite the opposite of Jacob’s all-night wrestle. And yet, Jacob receives his blessing.
I asked God, “What blessing am I missing because I am not willing to fight for it?” And God answered my prayer.
God brought to mind an area of my life I have been passively waiting for the blessing to fall upon me from heaven, and God impressed upon my heart, “It’s time to fight!” It’s time for me to put all of my strength into it, to actively and intentionally wrestle and chase after the call God has given me. It’s time to stop waiting, and start fighting.
Not physically. There is no one I have to literally fight. But, I have to fight my anxiety and insecurities, I have to fight my calendar, my people-pleasing tendencies and my fear of failure. I need to wrestle hard, persevere, and hold on until the blessing comes.
When Paul wrote to the Colossians he expressed it like this:
“Live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” (Colossians 1:10-12 NIV)
I’m learning that passively sitting back, prayerfully waiting, is not always the best posture. Sometimes God wants us to fight.
Are you a conflict avoider like me? Do you also like to wait patiently for the blessing of God to be served to you on a silver platter? Is God asking you to fight?You may need to fight for your marriage, fight for your health or for your ministry. Do you need to fight for time to spend with your children, or for a precious friendship, or a dream God has put in your heart? Perhaps the blessing will come when you actively and intentionally pursue all that God is calling you to. Perhaps it is time to fight.
Don’t let go until the blessing comes.
Christine is a wife and mother of three adult kids, who lives in an apartment full of potted plants and drinks more coffee than she’d like to admit. Christine works full time in ministry at her church and writes about faith, self-care, and simple living in her blog, Living with Margins. For more blogs from her, click here. You can listen to our Bible studies by tuning in to your favorite radio station, listening to our podcast on iTunes, or listening through TuneIn, Spotify, or Stitcher online radio.