As a young teenager in the 1980s, watching WWF wrestling on TV was big and entertaining. So much so, my dad took my mom, sister, great-grandfather (who lived with us at the time), and I to a WWF event at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. We were all beyond excited to see what we had watched on TV so many times, live and in person. The 30-minute drive from South Jersey, across the Walt Whitman Bridge, to South Philly seemed like a cross country road trip. Once we finally got to the Spectrum and made our way through the entrance, grabbed snacks and sodas, and geared up to sit down and be entertained. And entertained we were. The jeers and roars of the crowd, the aroma of fresh popcorn, the referees, the announcer's commentary, and the dramatic provocation of the wrestlers on the ticket were all the makings of fond childhood memories.
Yet, when we talk about wrestling in the spiritual sense, it is far from entertaining. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance defines wrestling as "contest between two in which each endeavors to throw the other, and which is decided when the victor is able to hold his opponent down with his hand upon his neck"(G3823). The reality is that we all at one time or another will wrestle against something. Notice I did not say someone. So often we experience defeat, severed and conflicted relationships, and adopt maladaptive coping skills simply because we are not cognizant of the real opponent. Victory comes when we become skillful spiritual warriors who are armed with truth, knowledge, and the Word of God.
Consider the exchange between David and his brother, Eliab, prior to David's victory over the giant, Goliath:
“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before."--I Samuel 17:28-30 (NIV)
We see a similar account in the New Testament with Paul being followed, and albeit heckled, by a young slave girl as he traveled throughout town:
"Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”
Paul was able to look beyond the girl and see the spirit that was operating through her. When we grab hold of the truth that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood (people), but rather principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high places, we wrestle effectively and experience victory, change, and deliverance in every aspect of our lives.
Who are you wrestling with today? If you are expending a tremendous amount time and energy wrestling, yet continue to feel frustrated, aggravated, tired, and angry--may I encourage to consider Ephesians 6:10-18?
One must never forget that the enemy of our soul does not want the people of God to experience the "zoe" life; life that is rich, abundant, and overflowing in the blessings, peace, prosperity, and love of God. It's life that is enjoyed because it comes from a spiritual place. It is the kind of life Satan greatly opposes and works relentlessly to keep us from experiencing.
Questions for Reflection:
1. Have you experienced "wrestling" with a person (spouse, child, family member, co-worker, boss, neighbor, etc.) How did this "match" make you feel?
2. In retrospect, are you now able to identify what you were wrestling with? Give it a name i.e., jealousy, lying, intimidation, rage, fear
3. How would this change the way you approach future interactions?
Father, in the name of Jesus, thank you for the entrance of your word that brings light (Psalm 119:130). Thank you that your word equips us for success in life. Thank you for revealing who the real opponents are according to Ephesians 6:12. We repent of wrestling with people. Forgive us of futile arguments, harboring offenses, and walking in bitterness and contempt. We align ourselves with the truth of your word. May we be ever mindful to utilize the armor that you have given us. We pray for discernment, wisdom, and understanding. We pray for healthy relationships and interactions that abound in your love, compassion, and grace.
Amen and so be it according to your word.