Wrestling with God

Wrestling with God

One of the devotionals that I regularly use during my daily time with God is the First 5 app  from Proverbs 31 Ministries. This app is free to download and is compatible with iOS and Android. The First 5 app provides written Bible teaching Monday through Friday, with a teaching video every Saturday that includes a summary of the learning from the previous week.

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A few weeks ago the weekend teaching was based on 2 Corinthians 12: 8-12 and was presented by Lysa TerKeurst, who is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her message was entitled Perseverance through Pain. Earlier this year Lysa had a significant health scare which resulted in her undergoing surgery to remove half her colon. The results could have been devastating, but she has made an excellent recovery. At the time Lysa wrote on her public Facebook page:

I have no words. Except “thank you.” Thank You, God. Thank you friends who prayed me through this. Thank you to this surgeon who finally figured out why I was in excruciating pain for days and days in that hospital bed.
Thank you that I still get to do life.

In her weekend teaching Lysa referred to her recent illness and recovery and talked about finding joy during difficult times and about the gift of experiencing God’s grace despite the pain. However Lysa is very clear that she doesn’t want to offer ‘easy answers’ to those who have prayed for healing for themselves or their loved ones and instead of God saying ‘yes’ He has apparently said ‘no’. Lysa talked about the death of her sister as a result of ‘a medical tragedy’. She said that after her sister died, she very much did not want people to offer her ‘easy answers’ as to why this tragedy had happened, because she needed space to ‘wrestle well’ with God.

Lysa’s phrase about wrestling well with God really resonated with me. I’ve written here before about wrestling with God. I don’t feel that I ever ‘lost’ my faith during Leah’s illness and death, however I have ‘wrestled with God’ over it all and I continue to do so as I seek to reconcile the events that have taken place, with what I believe to be true about God and about life. Tragedy and suffering definitely alter the lens through which everything is viewed.

Last weekend my husband and I watched the film Shadowlands, which is based on the romantic relationship between Oxford academic C. S. Lewis  and American poet  Joy Gresham, her death from cancer, and how this challenged Lewis’ Christian faith. We had previously watched the film when it was first released in 1993. This time round we found the film absolutely heart-breaking and we could identify with so much of it. However our recollection of watching it on the previous occasion many years ago, was of it being a ‘nice love story with beautiful scenery and a sad ending’!

There is a part towards the end of the film (at 1hr 55 min) after Joy has died when C. S. Lewis is grieving deeply and he joins his academic friends/colleagues at a social gathering. Lewis says to his friends:
I wasn’t going to come tonight but then I thought I would.”
One of his friends responds:
Life must go on.
Lewis’s answer to this comment begins with the line:
I don’t know that it must, but it certainly does.
He then entreats his friends with the words:
Don’t tell me it’s all for the best.
Undeterred by Lewis’s heartfelt plea, one of his friends (one who wears a clerical collar) begins to give him a theological explanation for what has happened. At this point, C. S. Lewis, overcome with emotion, shouts at his friends, then apologises and quickly leaves. His parting words, said under his breath are:
I just wanted company tonight.

My husband and I have no recollection of this scene from the first time that we watched Shadowlands, but needless to mention, it impacted us greatly this time around. Although I feel greatly blessed by the many people that I have in my life who understand grief and loss and who continue to provide emotional support whenever I need it, I could also relate to this scene in which C.S. Lewis just wanted his grief and loss acknowledged and didn’t want to be offered ‘easy answers’. The scene is so heartfelt and poignant.

C. S. Lewis is also an excellent example of someone who knew how to wrestle well with God. His books continue to inspire long after his death and he is often quoted by other writers and speakers.

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6 thoughts on “Wrestling with God

  1. Perfectly stated! Yes! That is what I have been doing …”wrestling with God!” I have never lost my faith through the loss of my son but I have had this terrible nagging in my soul…,the burden of “why??” with no satisfactory answer. It makes sense to call it “wrestling with God.”

    I am very familiar with the movie Shadowlands. I felt the same way as you and your husband after the second time seeing it. Death gives us a different perspective. I have to give my son the credit for reading C.S. Lewis. He introduced me to the book “The Screwtape Letters.” From then on I have read many of his books and writings. Sadly, you and I know from this pain of loss, “a grief observed.” God bless you, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wrestle on, Vicky. I join you in the quest to reconcile what has happened with truth in Scripture and the character of God. I believe that our wrestling is a form of praise-the commitment to carry on, to continue to engage and refusal to walk away when, on some level, it would be easier. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you too for your regular writings Melanie, as these help all of us bereaved parents to continue in our quest of reconciling what has happened in our lives with the truth of Scripture and the character of God. Sending hugs to you. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wrestling with God! Your post was just what I’d been going through. A few weeks ago my vicar asked me on a 1-10 what my relationship with God was like. I replied 8. My faith was there but sometimes I felt God wasn’t, my anxiety and fear would block the love. I felt confused as I knew the love of God but I was asking why it has to be this way. So turns out I’m simply wrestling with him, as you say. I have come to accept these moments as after I still feel God’s love, if not more, and my score goes back up to 10! Thank you Vicky, a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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