Life in the ring; wrestling with God
Whys and hows seem to fill my life. So many more questions pervade me than answers. I have been wrestling with God for years about a specific issue. My heart aches and I find myself exhausted.
As I was taking communion one Sunday and thanking God for who He is, I felt the warmth of His sweet comfort and mercy. He is so good.
I have often thought as many of us have, ‘why me?’ or ‘ why does this have to be so painful?’
Then, it hit me, something that I have known all along. No matter how painful, no matter how extreme the heartache . . . . HE IS WORTH IT!
The heartache that I experience is nothing compared to the great worth of knowing the Almighty God and my savior, Jesus Christ.
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8
My Sunday school class is going through Job. I love this story.
This is a man who lost everything; everything down to the last donkey. You know the saying, ‘You don’t have anything if you don’t have your health!’ Even that was taken from him. He was left a shell of a man crumbled in a heap on the ground.
And he begins to wrestle with God and with his ‘friends’.
Round 1 = Job and God
Round 2 = Eliphaz and Job
Round 3 = Bildad and Job
Round 4 = Zophar and Job
Rinse and repeat. It’s like clothes in a dryer spinning around and around, but never seeming to get anywhere.
The injustice of it makes us all a little uncomfortable. Job was a good man who obeyed God. So why did God allow such awful things to happen to him?
Many have tried to explain or make sense of this story. I am not sure that anyone has been successful. I doubt it.
Why would a loving God allow so much tragedy in the life of an upright and righteous man that He dearly loved? Why would He allow His beloved child to be broken?
“Why is light given to those in misery,
and life to the bitter of soul,
to those who long for death that does not come,
who search for it more than for hidden treasure,
who are filled with gladness
and rejoice when they reach the grave?” Job 3:22-24
I am not sure that anyone has lamented more thoroughly than Job did. Some may say that he was complaining. God couldn’t have been pleased with him acting this way . . . could He? We are supposed to praise God even in adversity, right?
It isn’t that simple.
Some may say that God is using Job in this story to show us what not to do in the face of a great trial.
I don’t think so.
Speaking as someone who has had many trials, I am convinced that there is nothing wrong with lamenting. I’ll even go a step further and say that as human beings it is necessary and unavoidable. And, God doesn’t count it against us.
We are human beings; finite and inadequate. The chasm between us and our Creator God is immense. He is transcendent. We are not. Therefore, there are many things in this life that transcend our understanding.
What if God designed human beings in such a way that we must wrestle with Him through pain and suffering? What if it is the only way?
What if to ‘suffer well’ is to wrestle with God? What if it is necessary to bring us to our knees?
God is not like a critic throughout the Old Testament explaining right from wrong. He is often just narrating. Many stories were told in a very matter-of-fact manner. He tells a story and leaves it to us to wrestle with it.
Why doesn’t God tell us what Job should or shouldn’t have thought or done, or what Eliphaz, Bildad, or Zophar should or shouldn’t have said when counseling him?
Why doesn’t He tell us the err of each person’s ways?
Why didn’t God always explain the shoulds & shouldn’ts in Scripture? And, why does He leave the ‘why’s for us to contemplate?
In Genesis 29, the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, God merely narrates. He never says what is right or wrong.
I wish God would have just said . . . . .
Jacob shouldn’t have picked someone to marry based on outward beauty.
Leah and her father shouldn’t have deceived Jacob into thinking she was Rachel.
Rachel should not have given her slave Bilhah to sleep with Jacob.
Leah should not have given her slave Zilpah to sleep with Jacob.
Jacob should not have slept with so many women!
Or, the story in Genesis 25 when Esau sells his birthright to Jacob. God could’ve said . . . .
Esau should not have sold his birthright just because he was hungry.
Jacob should not have deceived his father, Isaac, into thinking he was Esau
Or the story of Joseph and his brothers . . . .
Jacob should not have favored Joseph
Joseph should not have told his brothers about his dreams
Joseph’s brothers should not have sold him into slavery
Potipher’s wife should not have tried to seduce Joseph
In these particular stories, the rights and wrongs are obvious. However, in many other stories such as Job, they are not.
Why should we expect to understand everything in scripture? God is God, a unique and much greater being than us. Thinking that He would relate to us like one human to another doesn’t make sense. God is extremely NOT human! More importantly, we are extremely NOT God!!
I am convinced that wrestling with God is what we must do during times of suffering. It may be the only way to walk through pain that is obedient to God. Being tossed this way and that is moving us through the process of pain and growth. It is leading us to something better.
Wrestling with Him allows God to give us something more. Something extra that he promises us for persevering.
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12
I know that without the trials in my life, I would not be as in love with my God as I am today. And, I know that there is nothing greater in this life than being totally and helplessly in love with the One who created us, and His precious Son Jesus who saved us.
The love that we can share with God far surpasses any romantic love, or love of family and friends that we often settle for here on earth.
So, I am grateful for the wrestling. I may be beat up and bloodied at the end of the match, but as I heal, I am always stronger, wiser, and a more powerful human being then before.
It is as if God imparts His power onto us when we wrestle with Him.
I praise God for my relationship with Him everyday! God and I have a good thing going. My times of wrestling with Him have only made me love Him more.
I wouldn’t give up any part of my journey that has allowed me to be where I am at this very moment for anything.
Are my days of wrestling with God over? Probably not.
No matter what lies ahead of me, whether it be better days or worse, I will follow Him; even if it means painful wrestling in the valley of the shadow of death.
I will follow God because . . . . HE IS WORTH IT!
I have always been unsettled by the book of Job. What does it mean? What are we to think when God sends such hardship? Why? As you so eloquently explained, I am once again thinking of God in human terms. I think you are on to something Kim. Maybe wrestling with Him is what He means when He asks us to seek Him with all of our heart! Jacob wrestled with God, in fact, he wrestled all night. Can you imagine? Perhaps, that is how we get to know Him better.
Yes Rosalie! I have come to a place where I look on my wrestlings with God as a gift that I wouldn’t trade for the world! It is amazing that Jacob wrestled with God, physically, I have always been fascinated with that as well. What an honor!