Have you ever felt worn? A type of worn that sleep and rest can’t seem to satiate? A type of worn that goes deeper than the flesh to the very spirit?
I know I have.
I know I do.
It can sometimes seem like nothing is happening. Like this whole relationship with God thing has just become same old, same old. No growth. No revelation. A constant wondering if this path is the one of God’s will. A constant praying to silence. A constant longing and striving. A constant seeing and sensing of more, but unsure what that more is and how to reach it.
Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way. But I have a feeling I’m not.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not thinking on giving up this relationship. I desire God. I need God. I’m not questioning His goodness.
But at times, it’s too easy to say God is good as just a band-aid solution for the weary soul, without ever really defining what God being good means, without really seeking how this is possible in the midst of pain.
At times, it’s too easy to say all is well as a show of faith, without really trusting God with all your questions and feelings and hurts and struggles.
At times, it’s too easy to say I’m a child of God, without really wrestling with my identity, with the core of who I am.
At times, it’s too easy to say we’re to love others as Jesus does, without really acknowledging how difficult that can be and striving to learn how to do it, how to really, truly love unconditionally.
At times, it’s too easy to have all the right answers, without ever really learning.
And when the pattern of giving pat answers is established and followed, that’s when the growth really stops. That’s when no revelation is to be found.
We are afraid of wrestling. Of contending with these questions and feelings. Because to contend with them, we must acknowledge them. And to acknowledge them would be a lack of faith. A doubting of God. Or so we think.
Throughout Scripture, we find people who questioned, who wondered at suffering in the face of God’s goodness, who wondered how they might reveal God’s goodness and alleviate the suffering, who in pain cried, “Why?” And when no answer came, “Do You hear me?” And when the silence still whispered, asked, “Are You there?”
We see this questioning in David’s Psalms, right next to his declaring God’s goodness:
And even with David’s questioning, “God testified concerning him, ‘I have found David son of Jesse; a man after my own heart’” (Acts 13:22, NIV). Maybe it was this combination of questioning God’s reasons and timing, and declaring and praising His unfailing goodness and love, that led David to God’s heart.
Jacob literally wrestled with God for a full night. He wrestled for a blessing. He wouldn’t loose his grip on God.
And when dawn came, he was blessed by God and given the name “Israel”, which means “he struggles with God”. And Jacob named the place in which he struggled “Peniel”, which means “face of God”, because he saw God’s face and yet his life was spared (Genesis 32:22-32).
Maybe Jacob needed to wrestle with God in order to truly see God and truly live.
I don’t have all the answers. This is my own wrestling. My own contention with these conflicts. My own seeking of the heart of God.
And perhaps you have your own wrestlings. Let us not be alone.
Over the next few weeks, let’s do a character study on some people in the Scripture. Real people who wrestled with real questions, doubts and emotions. Real contenders who encountered God.
As we look at these contenders, perhaps we will learn how we too may contend. More importantly, we will learn of the character of God, the only One who can truly answer the questions, satisfy the striving and give victory to the wrestler.