Wrestling With God Round 2

The Bible is full of those who wrestled with God.

Abraham wrestled with God about his nephew Lot's bad decisions.
Moses wrestled with God about the rebellious Israelites.
Job wrestled with God about his suffering.
The prophet Samuel wrestled with God about Saul, who would become king.
David wrestled with God about King Saul, who was trying to kill him.
The Israelites in captivity wrestled with God about their future.
Nehemiah wrestled with God about the condition of the exiles returning to Israel.
Daniel wrestled with God on how to advise pagan kings.
The psalmists often wrestled with God about his apparent absence.
The prophets wrestled with God about injustice and unrighteousness.
The writer of Ecclesiastes wrestled with God about how life is unfair.
Mordecai and Esther wrestled with God about the looming genocide of God's people.

And these are just examples of wrestling with God.

I mentioned in the previous post on this topic that the very name Israel can be translated as one who struggles with God or one who wrestles with God.

The Bible is the story of people wrestling with God, and God wrestling with them.

When you wrestle with God, there are FOUR things NOT to do. Tomorrow I'll talk about how you can wrestle with God.

ONE: Don't walk away from wrestling with God.

When you need to wrestle, then wrestle. To walk away from this encounter, to try to avoid it, to pretend you are so spiritual you don't need to struggle with God, is to MISS GOD.

It also means you miss growing, changing, and finding what you need.

Some encounters with God are nice, sweet, encouraging, tender, intimate, healing, and so on.

Other encounters are tough, hard, demanding, painful, bruising, etc. Depending on your situation, your spiritual stage of life, and what lies before you, these hard encounters may be MUCH MORE IMPORTANT and USEFUL for you.

When it is time to wrestle, don't walk away.

TWO: Don't wrestle angry.

Don't assume that these hard times mean you are angry with God. By the way, you might be angry with God, but anger is never going to help you in your struggle with God.

Every now and then you will hear (the severely misguided) advice that  if you are angry with God you should tell him. Let God know and feel your anger. After all, that is you being real and authentic with God. And God is a Big God. God can handle your anger.

That advice sounds real spiritual, doesn't it?
It is not!
it is just narcissistic, contemporary pop advice that knows little about God or little about life with God.

Of course, God can handle your anger.

The problem is  YOU CAN'T HANDLE IT. You can rarely handle your anger against others. Your anger against others rarely improves things. It is only when you calm down that the problems can be addressed. Anger doesn't lead to solutions. Anger leads to more problems (most of the time). And that is with people.

When it comes to being angry with God you are making assumptions. You assume that God is in the wrong, you are right, you know better than God, and  God needs to get his act together. EVERY ONE OF THESE ASSUMPTIONS IS WRONG.

When you are angry with God you can't think straight, you can't listen, you can't communicate, and, in fact, when you are angry, you can't even "wrestle well." Angry people are much more likely to make mistakes and get beat up.

THREE: Don't wrestle with your mind already made up.

That is how we move into so many relational conflicts. Our mind is already made up. Now I need to convince you to accept MY MINDSET, my way, my demands, my expectations.

Take a moment and think about the assumptions that lie behind that way of thinking!

The point of wrestling with God is to meet God, encounter God, learn from God, be changed by God. Tomorrow I will tell you how you can be honest, real, authentic, and OPEN.

Sometimes we approach God saying, "God my mind is already made up on this. Don't confuse me with the truth."

FOUR: Don't wrestle to win!

Do I even need to say that this wrestling match is not  Thor vs. Hercules, not Odin vs. Zeus, not two gods going at it to see who is better!

You don't wrestle with God to win. The only way you win in a wrestling match with God is by losing. In losing, you realize your strength, your perspectives, your preferences, your problems, your hurts, your disappointments, your choices, EVERYTHING needs to change.

It is in the wrestling with God that change happens.

You win when you lose.

I'll say it with more spiritual language:


Later this week, Wrestling With God, Round 3 will tell you SEVEN WAYS you can and must wrestle with God.

Wrestling along with you,
Pastor Brian Rice
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