5. Jacob Wrestles with the Angel

by Nicholas Mynheer

Click on the image to view the full-size image

Commentary by the artist

Nicholas Mynheer writes:

I’ve returned to this theme time and again; in stone and in paint.

So often we find ourselves wrestling with ourselves when, perhaps, we are wrestling with God, with The Angel. Perhaps it is that God allows us to wrestle with him in order that we find an answer. As a wild hare will only run as fast as is absolutely necessary to avoid capture so the Angel only appears to wrestle with Jacob; with us. Our struggles are matched in order to make us feel the struggle as we wrestle with ourselves.

One of the great joys of the Internet for an Artist is that people stumble upon your work and often then contact you. A couple of years ago I had an email from someone in Canada. As Head Coach of the Canadian Olympic Wrestling team he had been scouring the Internet for wrestling images and came across the painting. He was struck by the image and felt moved to contact me. He informed me that the Wrestling fraternity argued that wrestling was the only sport sanctified by God because it was mentioned in scripture!

When he told me the names of the particular holds I had illustrated I had to inform him that they were actually the result of sketching and not a reflection of any wrestling knowledge. He proceeded to send me images of his Canadian team using similar holds in competition.

A printed copy of this image now hangs in the Canadian Olympic Wrestling Gymnasium!

Vicar’s reflections

Andrew Bunch writes:

Probably most of us have a diary, where we note our intentions and plans for the days and weeks ahead. But the course of life rarely goes entirely to plan, things come up, plans have to be modified or even abandoned as we have to address matters beyond our control. In our frustration we may scream out, “God Help me!” as we feel abandoned and helpless fighting against the tide of the unexpected. “Jacob wrestles the Angel” by Nick Mynheer speaks to me of this battle of will that goes on within us as we pit our desire to control our destiny and daily life against the unexpected demands that are placed upon us. Is the purpose of life to achieve our aims or to engage with the struggle of living? The insight gained from my study of geology is that ultimately the results of all our endeavours will be swept away. Thus, the only way we can engage with any sense of the eternal is in the struggle rather than in the fulfilment of any plans.

(Genesis 32:23-32)