Wrestle with God (Thursday)
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.
Fifth Thursday in Lent
Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. All things are wearisome; more than one can express; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear filled with hearing. Ecclesiastes 1:2;8
Everything is vanity. Fleeting. Like trying to catch the wind. Now you see it, now you don’t. An exercise in futility.
God is there. God is not there.
“I believe. Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
Can you relate? The ongoing tug-of-war in my soul leaves me wondering whether or not I’m really a follower of Jesus, at times. I am fickle – I find myself in church worshipping, but just as quickly I am even more engrossed in a high-budget action movie that awakens my senses. At other times I’ll be sitting with a client I’m counseling engrossed in her story with a sense that God is bigger than I’ve ever known. But shortly after I’ll see another whose gruesome story of abuse makes me wonder how God can be both good and all-powerful.
The one who wrestles with God also wrestles with doubt. It is inevitable. Read the Psalms alone and you’re in for a wild ride through the land of doubt, uncertainty, and despair. In fact, if you pay attention to the many biblical dialogues between God and humans – kings, prophets, ordinary folks – you’ll see instance after instance of “Are you sure, God?”
In fact, when I look at the Scriptures as a whole, I’m reminded that God didn’t provide a recipe book or an owner’s manual. The Bible is Story, through and through, chock full of human expressions of every imaginable emotion. God is not some diagnosably Obsessive Compulsive Disorder list-maker, not some insecure taskmaster. In fact, in trusting us with the Bible in its cacophonous beauty, he seems to be demonstrating how very secure he is in his own being with our doubts, disputes, and despair. Maybe God is more of a grown up than I thought?
The great 16th century theologian and reformer John Calvin once wrote, “Surely we cannot imagine any certainty that is not tinged with doubt, or any assurance that is not assailed by some anxiety.”[i] Any certainty, John? Really? But yes, it’s comforting to know that all of my supposed certainties may be laced with doubt, assailed by anxiety. It’s comforting to know that God is secure even amidst my insecurity.
This is why God is not just comfortable with but delights in being more near to us than we are to ourselves. God is not afraid of you. God is not afraid of your doubts. God is not afraid of your anxiety. Perhaps the reason “Do not fear” is so often on God’s lips is because he is ultimately fearless when it comes to us. God’s own trust in us is absolutely tied to his confidence in his own love and care for us.
And so wrestle with each and every doubt. Speak it plainly. Share it with confidence. God is secure, and God is a much better listener than anyone you’ve ever known.
Powerful and Good God, knowing that you are secure helps me to feel a bit more secure. Knowing that you are willing to hear my every doubt frees me up to express to you concerns that I thought were weak and selfish. I want honesty in every part of me. Give me the confidence to trust you. Amen
[i] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.2.1