Wrestling With The Angel

| First published in Kouga Express |

One of the most fascinating passages in the Bible is the one where Jacob wrestled with an angel. I have so many questions: Why did the angel come to Jacob? Why did he come at all? Why did he strike Jacob’s hip? Why did he leave him crippled for the rest of his life? Why did he give Jacob a new name? 

We love to ask ‘Why?’ Why me…? Why did this happen to me…? Why is this not happening?! Why is my life the way it is…?

What’s significant is how Jacob refused to let the angel go. The struggle went on all night; he was exhausted and worn out from the battle. Yet he held on, demanding the angel, ‘I will not let you go until you have blessed me.’ This was after the angel had ‘touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched.’ How incredibly painful that must’ve been!

When traumatic things happen, we try not to dwell on them. We suppress it and try to forget it. It is easier to put the bad stuff behind us as quickly as possible. It might be easier that way, but we miss the blessing in it. There’s a blessing to be found in the struggle, in the pain. We need to look a little deeper, dig a little deeper, and ask deeper questions.

It made me think of a conversation I had last year with a 75-year-old man. 

‘Every morning, I spend half an hour alone in my garden,’ the man told me. ‘My garden is my secret place; it is where I spend time with all my unanswered questions.’

We were surveying the splendor of my grandmother’s garden; he was there to pick up her broodbome (cycads). It was there where my grandmother had spent most of her morning’s bare feet, watering the plants, and spending time with God. My grandmother had graduated to heaven a few weeks earlier; it was time to let go of her earthly remains. 

‘I have over fourteen broodbome back home,’ the man told me. ‘I cannot wait to put these plants in my garden along with all the others. It is going to look just splendid!’

He also added, ‘I cannot wait to die and go to heaven. This is why I am here on this earth; to spend time with Jesus and then finally, for eternity. My life is a preparation for what awaits me.’

What stood out for me from this conversation is that despite his unanswered questions, he still chose to spend time with Jesus. Instead of running away, he ran towards Jesus. 

We each have our unanswered questions, the things that we wrestle with. But… it is not a sign of unbelief; rather, it’s an invitation for us to delve deeper into a relationship with the Lord. We also tend to think that we need to have a relationship with God to get answers, but what if it’s simply just to have a relationship…?

My hearing loss could easily have been this giant unanswered question in my life. Why did it happen to me? Why me, and not my brother or sister? A long time ago, I chose to surrender that question. I know that some questions will remain unanswered in this life. Certain things will most probably only be understood once we get to heaven. Or maybe when we get there, it simply won’t matter anymore. And that’s also okay.

The man in the garden continues to tell me, ‘I have to surrender most of my questions. I have given up my right to understand everything. I still ask my questions, but I also let them go. It’s an open conversation between me and the Lord.’ 

My grandmother’s broodbome now nestles in that man’s garden. I can picture him sitting there on his bench every morning. He is surrounded by the sun, the trees, the singing birds, and the burning questions in his heart. He converses, struggles, and digs a little deeper. He wrestles with angels and he fights for the blessings that await him on the other side. 


I listened to Ginny Owens’ music as a teenager, and one song that touched me was ‘This Road.’

Ginny lost her sight at the age of three, which makes this song even more powerful.


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