Then the man said, You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed. (Gen 32:28)
The Bible is full of persons who wrestle with God. As they stumble in their lives, they love and adore their Lord. They also scheme, lie, cheat, steal, quarrel, and fornicate. Abraham, the faith model for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, tells Sarah to lie; Sarah scolds God for ignoring her; Amnon rapes his sister; Judas recognizes Jesus’ unconditional love for him; Mary thinks that by distancing himself from her, Jesus hammered a spike into her breast; Peter’s wife crawls into their bed and snuggles up; Jesus’ relatives think he is crazy. In a word, as seekers of God the biblical characters mirror our lives. Like Jacob we limp away from the wrestling match.
Kilian McDonnell, OSB, is a monk/theologian of Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota. He is the author of three other books of poetry: Swift, Lord, You Are Not, Yahweh’s Other Shoe, and God Drops and Loses Things (Saint John’s University Press).