Wrestle A Blessing


[1] A biblical image that comes to mind when I think of raising a child with special needs, is that of Jacob wrestling a blessing from God in Genesis 32:22-32. In the story Jacob was returning to his homeland after being gone for many years. He had left home because he had tricked his brother out of his birthright. God told him it was time for him to return. Jacob was scared but obeyed. He sent half of his belongings ahead of him to prepare the way with gifts. Jacob planned to appear to his brother a day or two after the gifts arrived. The night after Jacob sent this first wave of gifts, he wrestled with a stranger. The stranger puts Jacob's thigh out of joint. Even though he was injured Jacob refused to let go until he received a blessing. The stranger not only gave him a blessing but gave him a new name, Israel (he who strives with God or God strives). Jacob met God face to face. Complete with his new name and his blessing, Jacob limped away to face his brother.

[2] I am going on my life journey, going where I feel God has called me to go and I meet a stranger in my way. The stranger I meet is not my son, but something within my son that I must wrestle with daily. I wrestle with getting him to do his homework, doctor appointments, hearing aids that break down, glasses that get scratched and bent out of shape. I wrestle with how to break into his world when he gets caught in one of his patterns. I wrestle with his future; will he ever be on his own? I wrestle with keeping up with all his needs and the needs of my other son, the housework, the dishes, laundry and groceries. I wrestle with all these things and they tire me out, but I won't let go until God blesses me. I don't like the fact that my child is different than other children. I don't like that he is falling behind his classmates. I want to be blessed. I want something good to come out of this. I demand a blessing for all of my wrestling.

[3] Then there is the moment Micah says something so cute and so precious that I am blessed. He teaches me about living in the moment, living in the present. He shows signs that he just might be able to make it in this world.

[4] One day when Micah was having his piano lesson, his brother (Nicholas) was being impatient for his lesson which is after Micah's. Nicholas was hovering over Micah and his piano teacher. Micah says to him, "Nicholas I know you like to play the piano, but it is my turn now. You have to wait." I wouldn't have handled that nearly as well.

[5] When I have my bad days of wrestling with Micah's special needs, it helps me to know that I can wrestle with God and demand a blessing. Even though I never know what form the blessing will take and even though I may sometimes walk away limping, I know that God is in the midst of this with me and I can face whatever it is that will come before me.



© July 2007
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 7, Issue 7