Wrestling & Embracing with God

I don’t know about you, but I really like asking questions, for better or for worse. I think that we were created to be curious beings. According to Genesis we were made uniquely: we were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) with a capacity to feel, think, love— with a body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23). Neil Anderson wrote a book called, Victory Over Darkness, about realizing the power of your identity in Christ (it’s a good one y’all). He describes body, soul, spirit like this:
 


I want to hang tight on the soul aspect for the rest of this blog—the part of you that comprises your mind, emotions, and will. If you’re anything like me, your soul can feel like it’s on one of those wooden roller coaster rides sometimes (if you’ve ever ridden the Cheetah at Wild Adventures, you know what I’m talking about; if you haven’t, I just looked it up and you can “virtually ride” it—what a thrill). Especially when things are going “wrong”, our emotions and thoughts can lead us away from the truth about who God is, ourselves and our identities, and the world around us. We have to know what truth is because when we choose to believe lies, either passively or intentionally, we are choosing to believe that what God says is not true. We end up using our emotions as a gauge for reality and, friends, that’s not a good place to be. In the Old Testament, Jeremiah puts it this way in verse 17:9:
 
“The heart is more deceitful than all else
 And is desperately sick;
 Who can understand it?


Don’t hear me say that it is wrong to have feelings. I’m actually saying the exact opposite: feel your feelings, because they are a tool that God gave you. Your thoughts and emotions are signals to your core beliefs about who God is and who you are. Does that mean those core beliefs are true? Sometimes they’re not. This is why Scripture is so important: it gives us an outline of absolute truth. Time and time again, He reminds us of His goodness. But oftentimes, our circumstances can lead us to believe otherwise. We live in a fallen world, and as a result, we see brokenness, injustice, and suffering. It’s human nature to watch or experience pain and question where God is. That’s why I really like the book of Habakkuk.
 
Habakkuk is a minor prophet in the Old Testament. His name can literally be translated to “wrestle and embrace”. Great name, great meaning, but maybe not one for your future kids. When Habakkuk was writing, Israel was under horrible leadership (shocker) where injustice, evil, and tragedy were the norm. He asks in Habakkuk 1:2-3,

How long, Lord, must I call for help
 and you do not listen
 or cry out to you about violence
 and you do not save?
 Why do you force me to look at injustice?
 Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
 Oppression and violence are right in front of me.
 Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates.


In this passage, Habakkuk sees the injustice happening around him, and questions if God even cares what’s happening. His heart was broken for the people and the violence they were facing. Habakkuk was trying to reconcile who He believed God to be, with what he was seeing in front of him. Sound familiar? What’s an instance in your life where this has been true?
 
Oftentimes, we would rather shut ourselves off to God when this disillusionment happens. We become bitter and resentful. Here’s the deal: our emotions cannot and should not dictate who God is—only He can do that. He deeply cares for you and understands your pain, and He promises to be with you through all of it.

“You’ve kept track of all my wandering and my weeping.
 You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle—not one will be lost.
 For they are all recorded in your book of remembrance.”

- Psalm 56:8 (TPT)

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
     I have called you by name, you are mine.
  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
     and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
 when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
     and the flame shall not consume you. 
For I am the Lord your God,
     the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

- Isaiah 43:1-3 (ESV)

Out of the Lord’s kindness, grace, and mercy, we can ask questions to the creator of the universe. I think questions can be really great if our heart postures are in the right place. Are we asking from a place to wrestle and embrace? Or are we asking because we just want to wrestle? While asking the tough questions, it’s important for us to remember that God is our friend, but He is also Lord. When wrestling with Him, we have to find the balance of embracing Him too.

I believe that God fully understands how unfair and painful life gets. In Craig Groeschel’s book, Hope in the Dark, he puts it this way: “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that God suffered an enormous burden in sending His only Son to be born into our sin-stained world. By sacrificing Jesus—His own Son—God created a bridge that allows us to know Him, to be forgiven of our sins, and to be remade in the image of Christ. But in order to give up His Son, God had to first allow Jesus to suffer in a way that must have felt unbearable to God as a Father.” No other god is or ever will be like that. Yahweh sacrificed Himself, so we could be saved, but not only that—so He could also restore relationship with us. When we doubt His goodness, the first thing we can do is look to the cross. In that act of sacrifice, we see the deepest love and goodness there ever has been or ever will be.
 
In Habakkuk, he didn’t get the answer he wanted from God. However, he did not put his faith in the outcome, but in God’s character:

“Though the fig tree does not bud
 and there is no fruit on the vines,
 though the olive crop fails
 and the fields produce no food,
 though there are no sheep in the pen
 and no cattle in the stalls,
 yet I will triumph in Yahweh;
 I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
Yahweh my Lord is my strength;
 He makes my feet like those of a deer
 and enables me to walk on mountain heights!”

- Habakkuk 3:17-19 (HCSB)

Habakkuk calls us to be a people of faith that see beyond our circumstances, a people marked by hope. As you process your pain or the injustice around you, hold onto your faith, even if it’s just a sliver. I promise that He can work with that. My prayer for you is that you learn to wrestle and embrace with God, and that you would encounter His presence through it. My hope is that your faith would come out stronger on the other side; and that His goodness would be undeniable, not just because you’ve convinced yourself of it, but because you know it in the deepest part of your soul.

Prayer:
Father, give us a hunger to know You more. Send your Spirit to reveal truth in Scripture about who You are. Help us prioritize our relationship with You, so when we face the challenging questions, we would know how to wrestle and embrace. Come and shift in us a spirit of doubt to a spirit of faith. Make us a people marked by hope. We pray all this in Jesus’s Name. Amen.

Author | Brooke DeLoach

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