By Guest Blogger
And [Jesus] was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. John 6:65-68
When I first went to a church where the truth was taught, hearing God’s Word faithfully preached brought great joy, but it wasn’t long before I heard truths which were completely new to me. Some of them were unsettling and hard to accept. They presented challenges to my mind and my emotions and caused me to wrestle more than they caused me to rejoice. But there was no escape – they were there in black and white on the pages of my Bible.
What happens when I read something in God’s Word that doesn’t fit with what I thought I knew about Him, or when I read something that’s beyond my ability to grasp intellectually or accept emotionally? What about when I discover that what’s actually written in God’s Word contradicts or challenges long-held, cherished beliefs which were taught, apparently from the Bible, by people I love and respect? What about when my circumstances seem to mock the truth of God’s promises, or when the truth hurts and my sin is exposed?
The following is from a prayer entitled “Christ the Word” (From The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions):
“In a world of created changeable things, Christ and His Word alone remain unshaken … If I oppose the Word I oppose my Lord when He is most near; if I receive the Word I receive my Lord wherein He is nigh. O thou who hast the hearts of all men in thine hand, form my heart according to the Word, according to the image of thy Son. So shall Christ the Word, and His Word, be my strength and comfort.”
If I claim to love Jesus I must love His Word, even when it says hard things. I must know who He is as revealed in Scripture and hold fast to Him even when that means letting go of my own version of Him. I must always consider what I believe in the light of what God says in His Word, rather than evaluating God’s Word in the light of what I already believe.
God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9).
At times we do wrestle with the difficult things we encounter in His Word or experience through His providence. If we continue to humbly wrestle and don’t walk away, our wrestling eventually leads to greater rejoicing and a deeper knowledge of Him. Job, because of his wrestling with God during the deep suffering that he endured, was able to say, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5). After Jacob wrestled with God he said “I have seen God face to face…” (Genesis 32:30).
Our wrestling is not resolved by withdrawing in order to work out intellectual answers, nor by turning away from difficult teachings, clinging to the Jesus of our own making and searching out a fellowship where we can be told what we already believe. Over time, if we continue to hear God’s Word faithfully preached, some of the truths we found the most difficult to accept when we first heard them become the truths that bring us the deepest joy.