Honest Wrestling with God

Don't live hiding from God.

God is the safest place to take your anger, your doubt and your sin. 

For thousands of years, the Book of Job has ministered to people in the face of hardship and loss. In it, a man named Job loses all of his wealth, all of his children, and his own health in rapid succession. He feels abandoned by God and completely misunderstood by his friends. Let's take a look at a selection of verses in chapter 13, where Job pushes back against the bad advice of his friends and is completely honest before God:

Job 13

3 But I desire to speak to the Almighty

    and to argue my case with God.

4 You, however, smear me with lies;

    you are worthless physicians, all of you!

 

12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;

    your defenses are defenses of clay.

13 “Keep silent and let me speak;

    then let come to me what may.

14 Why do I put myself in jeopardy

    and take my life in my hands?

15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;

    I will surely defend my ways to his face.

 

20 “Only grant me these two things, God,

    and then I will not hide from you:

21 Withdraw your hand far from me,

    and stop frightening me with your terrors.

22 Then summon me and I will answer,

    or let me speak, and you reply to me.

23 How many wrongs and sins have I committed?

    Show me my offense and my sin.

24 Why do you hide your face

    and consider me your enemy?

25 Will you torment a windblown leaf?

    Will you chase after dry chaff?

26 For you write down bitter things against me

    and make me reap the sins of my youth.

27 You fasten my feet in shackles;

    you keep close watch on all my paths

    by putting marks on the soles of my feet.

 

1. Honesty is the secret to wrestling with God

We can immediately see that Job is being entirely open before God with his feelings, with his hurt and frustration with life and with God. Honesty is the secret to wrestling with God. We’re told to confess our sins to God and to others, so it’s clear we should never be afraid of taking our sin to God. The whole point of the cross is that God is the best place to deal with our failures. This chapter of Job reminds us that we ought to also take disappointment and doubt to Him. If we hide it, from God, from others, and from ourselves, we begin to enslave ourselves to shame. 

2. When God seems distant, God is not absent

Stepping back from this chapter, we see that at the end of the book, God answers Job and brings a lot of healing and restoration to him. Don’t jump from feelings to the assumption that God is far from you, no matter what is happening.

Deuteronomy 3:6 He will not leave you or forsake you.

3.  Friends can give bad advice

The Christian life is based on being in community with other believers. The Church is a wonderful place to be loved and to receive wisdom. That doesn’t mean that followers of Jesus can’t make mistakes. And outside of the church, your friends have only shifting worldly opinions to rely on. Job’s friends blame Job, which is really unhelpful to Job. God later corrects them. Don’t feel the need to "fix" your friends situation. Listen to their hurt. Be with them.

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

4. There is a spiritual battle we don't see 

As readers of the book of Job, we see the scenes in heaven that lead to Job’s trials. Job's role is never explained to him. Seeing that, we must live between the tension of knowing that God is loving and powerful and knowing that we don’t always understand everything that’s happening to us. We are only responsible for how we respond to God.

4. Commitment to God is always rewarded

There’s perhaps nothing more striking in this section than Job’s radical commitment to God in verse 15: 

"If you slay me, yet I will hope in you”

In your greatest hurt, in your greatest struggle with God, let your commitment to Him be reinforced. For life's biggest and most challenging issues, there’s not a more hopeful and restorative place than coming before Jesus and saying, “Lord, here’s my life." 

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.