Tuesday, October 06, 2009

is wrestling with God bad?

On Halfmom's blog, Not Ashamed!, there is an excellent post and interesting discussion about wrestling with God. We agree that Jacob's wrestling was an expression of lack of faith on his part, but I think it was also an expression of faith. For if Jacob would have had no faith, he wouldn't have bothered to wrestle with God, but would have taken matters into his own hands.

Not all wrestling in Scripture is bad. We need to want God's blessing so badly that we refuse to rest until we enter into God's rest. I believe God is pleased with any expression of faith. Though God is not satisfied unless we're growing in our faith. Jacob wrestled with God because his situation looked dire. It looked to him as if God's promise might fail. Certainly a lack of faith there. Contrast an older Abraham (than the younger one, who also failed on this score) who when God commanded him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac- in whom God's promises lived- obeyed.

I wish I didn't wrestle over certain matters. But I'm not there yet, to a faith which is at rest no matter what. But I want to press into that. To make every effort to enter into God's rest in Jesus and through his promises.

What do you think? Is wrestling with God bad? Or what might be good or bad about it? And I wonder what Jewish tradition on the passage of Jacob wrestling with God, might teach us.

Tomorrow, chapter 2: "Why a Jewish Rabbi?" from Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg.


The Wingnut said...

God has shown Himself to be a relational God over and over again. He values our relationship with Him, and obviously cares for His creation a great deal.

I can not think of very many more intimate relationships than two wrestlers going at it on the mat.

Of course, if this wrestling match stems from our lack of faith, we should not be surprised when God pins us down over and over again, using the same moves and teaching the same lessons every time.

But if the wrestling comes from those deep questions that only God can answer, then when He finally does pin us, we can both get up from the mat, embrace, and say, "That was awesome! Let's do it again tomorrow!"

I think of me and my son. He's not quite two yet, so I can pin him easily (I figure I've got about three or four more years before that changes), but his reaction is the same every time: He struggles to push me away, all the while laughing like crazy. He loves it.

Is wrestling with God bad? If you're wrestling to protect your life above His will, then yes. Otherwise, get in the ring!


Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. An apt analogy. I guess I do have some difficulty in seeing wrestling with God as the norm in our faith life. But I do believe there are times in our development when it may even be necessary. And even later on in life at times. We pray to God, recalling his promises in Jesus in the face of evil and injustice in this world.

L.L. Barkat said...

Yes, I've always thought of it as a kind of faith. Like when my spouse argues with me versus simply walking away. Walking away stops the process; at least arguing/wrestling means we still care. (Though of course the idea is hopefully to come to some kind of resolution.)

Okay, that's not to say we shouldn't sometimes walk away either. Sometimes that is oddly part of a necessary process.

In the end, I suppose God is big enough to handle any kind of human response. :)

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. The Bible is full of kinds of wrestling with God, as I see it. And most all of it is expressive of some sort of faith in God I think, even if it's challenging God in regard to what is happening in the world.

But good analogy in regard to our spouse.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I think there's some truth in the saying that atheists can be closer to God than professing Christians. An atheist can get more than they bargained for or believed, when they start to wrestle against the notion of God, and can find themselves in the end wrestling with God himself.