Wrestle With God (Sunday)
Today's devotional comes from "Falling Into Goodness," a book of Lenten reflections by Chuck DeGroat. You can purchase the entire book on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.
For my sighing comes instead of my bread,
and my groanings are poured out like water.
For the thing that I fear comes upon me,
and what I dread befalls me.
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
I have no rest, but trouble comes.
In a culture where we’ve become experts in pain avoidance, wrestle with God. In a world where self-help books promise quick fixes, enter the boxing ring. In a society that wipes away tears before they’ve fully been shed, embrace your pain.
But what does that mean? For Job, at least, it meant wrestling with God until he came to a place of silence, of surrender. Dogged by so-called friends who were trying to theologize his experience, friends who were trying to find some rationale, Job just kept wrestling. Challenged by accusations, Job kept wrestling. Job kept wrestling until his arms could no longer grip, until his hands opened in a posture of surrender.
Some have tried to find a secret recipe for understanding God in this 42 chapter, 12 round boxing match called “The Book of Job.” But you can’t find it. It’s not there. There’s no “how-to” of pain management. No, this book is a heavyweight bout. Job enters the ring. He looks pain square in the eye. And he knows that he can’t do that without looking God square in the eye.
Lent is a Job-like season. It’s a time when we pay attention to our strategies of avoidance. It’s a season in which we rip off our band aids and do the major heart surgery necessary to discover how we sabotage the God-abiding life. It’s a season in which we acknowledge our propensity to avoid the ground of our being and the limitations of our creaturely life.
And pain holds the possibility of returning us back to that ground. When tragedy affects us, there is no more room for pretense. When health is stolen from us, our false selves relax their controlling grip. All of a sudden we’re thrown into a raw, unfiltered space. We’re thrust into the boxing ring , and it feels like God is our greatest enemy.
In these times, the fluff has to go. Throw out the self-help book. Refuse the Kleenex meant to clean you up quickly. Avert your eyes when the super-spiritual comforter comes with her encouraging Bible verse. Let your entire being descend into its earthy, rugged ground. “Speak what you feel, not what you ought to say.”[i]
Remember, blessed are the broken. On the wilderness journey of life, there is no path around, under, or over – only through. Don’t waste your time trying to figure it all out. Go through it, with boxing gloves on, honest as you can.
Maybe, in the end, you’ll be able to surrender with Job. Maybe in the wordless ground of your being, connected again to your creation-dust, you’ll be able to say with Job
I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. Job 42:1
God, I’d like to enter into a more honest place with you. In the midst of a world that sanitizes suffering, I want to be a person who has nothing to hide between us. Give me the courage to trust you with my whole heart and story. Amen