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Wrestling with God

We find our identity and value in God when we are honest enough to wrestle with him.


Soon after my wife and I married, we began decorating our house by putting things on the walls. When we came to the kitchen, I came up with an idea.

I had been given a plate by some friends many years before—a nice china plate with a bird on it—and although I didn't find the plate particularly attractive, I knew that plate belonged on the kitchen wall. The plate sparked a conversation—an argument, really—about what would go on the wall. Back and forth we went about the bird plate. Finally I said, "I want the bird plate on the wall. I can't even tell you why I'm so upset about getting the bird plate on the wall, but I want it there. We can talk about it more tomorrow, but for now, I'm putting the bird plate on the wall."

The truth is, I just wanted to have my own way. I wish I could say I had never done anything like that before or since, or that I've only argued over bird plates and more trivial things. However, I've argued with my wife and others over things both more and less important than the bird plate. In many cases, my motive for arguing was simply my wanting my own way.

We all want our own way.

Sometimes when we demand our way, we're simply expressing our opinion. Sometimes it's as if we're trying to say, "I exist. I have a vision for what can happen. I like it this way and not that way." Sometimes it's just an expression of our lives. Trouble comes when we want our own way more than we want anything else. Demanding things be done our way reveals that something deeper is at stake in our lives. Something is unsettled, and, for some reason, we believe getting the bird plate on the wall is going to address this deep concern.

The story of Jacob is the story of a person who desperately wants ...

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Mark Labberton is senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley in Berkeley, California.

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Sermon Outline:


The motive behind most arguments is just wanting our own way.

I. We all want our own way.

II. We are all seeking a blessing.

III. We all seek an identity

IV. We must wrestle with God.

V. We must receive a new identity.

VI. We must know God.


Will we wrestle persistently with God to receive the blessing he alone can give?