Here's to All the Losers

Why defeat at the hands of God is magnificent.

If you like action-adventure, check out the Genesis 32 account of Jacob's Jabbok River wrestling match. Jacob is camped out and stressed out, awaiting a potentially dangerous confrontation with his estranged brother. His worries are interrupted when a stranger jumps him in the darkness. By morning, Jacob realizes he's spent the night wrestling God; somehow he manages to limp away blessed. In the process, he learns that God is more than willing to be grappled with, and that holding on for dear life is the way to go.

It's amazing—and sobering—to realize that Jacob has the strength to resist God. It isn't until the angel of the Lord dislocates Jacob's hip that Jacob surrenders and requests what he's really been fighting for—a blessing. My husband, a wrestling coach, tells me the hip is the wrestler's pivot point, the core of his strength. God can't give Jacob the blessing he desperately needs until he incapacitates him at the center of his human power. Frederick Buechner calls Jacob's resounding loss The Magnificent Defeat.

There's something familiar about Jacob's story.

I'm a singer and songwriter. I recognize that such a vocation is more fun and fulfilling than anyone deserves, and I've spent most of my professional life grinning at my good fortune. But last year, I found myself in the midst of a tour feeling miserable. My own company was handling many of the details, and every night I took the stage consumed with logistics. I've always loved the fact that performing forces me to be in the moment, but this tour I was definitely somewhere else. I'd find myself disoriented in the middle of a song, unsure whether I'd already sung the second verse. Something was wrong.

I prayed. I asked God to restore to me the ...

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Wrestling with Angels
Carolyn Arends
Singer/songwriter and author Carolyn Arends has written and released 9 albums and penned 2 books, including Wrestling With Angels (Harvest House/Conversantlife.com). A list of her blogs can be found at CarolynArends.com. Her bimonthly "Wrestling With Angels" column has appeared in Christianity Today since 2008.
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Here's to All the Losers
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