Back in the day, I would perennially try to instill in my students this foreign substance called "ganas."
It's a Spanish word that means "strong desire," fervor, or "push."
Actually, “desire” has always seemed too weak a word, even "strong desire." In fact, if we can think of "lusting" in a GOOD way, for good and right things -- THAT'S "ganas" (as in Galatians 5:17 KJV, "the Spirit lusteth against the flesh").
It's a strong, burning, non-stop, unquenchable, never-quitting desire we're talking here.
Not that it doesn't get challenged, contested, attacked and kicked to the ground at times.
Not that it doesn't sometimes wane when life knocks us out of our skulls for a spell.
I got the term from the true story of quintessentially premier teacher Jaime Escalante, who famously took 18 disadvantaged kids from the barrio in East L.A. and led them against mountainous odds to crush the Advanced Placement test in Calculus; a feat that still astonishes educators and nay-sayers everywhere.
(In the years that followed, he more than quadrupled that number, btw).
But the ganas I’m interested in is in neither the academic nor secular, but is found throughout the Bible. Such as Psalm 42:1 "As the hart panteth after the waterbrook, so panteth my soul after thee, O God."
or I Peter 2:2 "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby."
Or Psalm 119:148; or Matthew 5:6, or Romans 12:11, etc., etc.
Clearly, ganas for God-things is a good thing.
God fervently desires that we catch, and cultivate, a fervent desire for the things of the Spirit.
He prizes it, and He will honor it, according to His promise in Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness . . .
FOR THEY SHALL BE FILLED."
Such, I believe, is the principal take away from Genesis 32:24-32: Jacob wrestling all night with the Angel of the Lord.
Several spiritual lessons can be drawn from this classic passage, but I think it is primarily a picture of an epically flawed man who had an EPIC spiritual energy or desire; a desire that actually "prevailed with God."
It's the prophet Hosea who graces us with this interpretation:
"He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:
Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto Him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us; Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial" (Hosea 12:3-5).
God recollects that scene in Genesis 32 to make the point in Hosea 12 that it was Jacob's tenacious hunger for God that so distinguished him in His eyes.
In Hosea 12, Jacob's ganas is in stark contrast to the spiritual apathy and malaise that God saw and detested in the Israel of that day.
In Hebrews 12, we see that sharp contrast in Esau, Jacob's brother, the firstborn and rightful heir who despised the birthright which God had infused with such great spiritual significance.
Bottom line: most people -- MOST -- are more like Esau; far too lightly do they esteem the things of God.
But Jacob esteemed them so highly he wrestled all night with an angelic being so superior to him in strength, he put his thigh permanently out of joint with a touch.
And still the patriarch refused to let go, but clung with a ferocity to the One Who had wounded and disabled him, even weeping as he clung.
That's what God calls ganas.
It's not some emotion drummed up by a crack motivational speaker. More like a proper recognition of authentic need. It's having proper esteem for the things God highly esteems.
And God WILL honor that,
Because He ALWAYS honors those who honor Him (I Samuel 2:30).