Wrestling with God

Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, from disinterested to news junkie, deep maroon red or electric blue – we should all be able to agree that John McCain loved our nation, served it tirelessly, and that his leadership and voice will be missed. As we collectively mourn the passing of this imperfect hero, I read a piece he wrote for US News & World Report in May 1973 after returning from over 5 years of captivity and torture as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.
Among many other details of his experience, McCain reflected on how prayer helped him endure:
I was finding that prayer helped. It wasn’t a question of asking for superhuman strength or for God to strike the North Vietnamese dead. It was asking for moral and physical courage, for guidance and wisdom to do the right thing. I asked for comfort when I was in pain, and sometimes I received relief. I was sustained in many times of trial.
Just as his love for his country flourished while a prisoner in a foreign land, his faith in Jesus rekindled as he wrestled with God. I recently read about another man who grappled with God.
…His name was Jacob, but it was changed to Israel (God-Wrestler) in Genesis 32. When returning to his homeland, Jacob fought with God to receive a blessing, but it wasn’t until he expressed a deeper desire beneath the “blessing,” the need to know God… asking, “What’s your name?” that he finally received the blessing he craved.
I have often come to God asking for a blessing. Less frequently have I begged for the pleasure of just knowing him better. Yet, that is the deeper desire that gives rise to all other requests. Would you join me in sitting quietly before God for a few minutes? What is it that you want… that your heart deeply longs for? May God’s grace grant us satisfaction for the need beneath all the blessings we crave.
Titus O’Bryant
Teaching & Executive Pastor of Ministries