Do you possess a heart that’s being challenged and changed under the weight of what you don’t yet understand?
It could be expectations that automatically come from your thought process without conscious effort – like when we see the eastern sky grow orange-pink, we expect sunrise soon.
When flaws in our logic or biasness arise, such expectations may be incorrect. When they’re not met, we blame someone or something even if our expectations were unreasonable, and pain ensues.
Managing our emotions and expectations are what I call the ‘witness of wrestling’, saying, “Lord, I don’t understand but I want to. I’m confused; hurting but I care, and still hopeful.”
Though these emotions don’t define us – nor should they control us – it may take focused effort to reset them and our expectations. It’s easiest to fall into old patterns if we don’t consciously exercise to bring change.
We must begin to trust God and understand that we can’t see the relationship between what He’s doing and what He’s promised to do. God is not surprised nor shocked by our wrestling, just as He’s never surprised by the world’s events as we only see a tiny fraction of what He sees.
Daily rehearsing godly principles to grow in Scriptures, our walk can mature – ‘We’re transformed through the renewal of our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 12:1-2
Meditating on God’s attributes in the knowledge of Him, we can stand on His promise that our value and worth are in Him alone.
Jacob spent 20 years running from Esau, only to return home to Canaan unsure of what to expect. Hearing that Esau was coming with 400 men, Jacob was seized by fear and became anxious for himself, his wives, and children – through the night he wrestled with God until daybreak.
When the Lord determined that Jacob had wrestled long enough, He touched the hollow of his thigh and demanded he let Him go. Jacob cried, “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” God responded, “Your name will no longer be Jacob [deceiver], but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Genesis 32:28
David, who was called ‘a man after God’s own heart’, was no stranger to wrestling with his faith. With Ziklag destroyed and his wives carried away, David’s men spoke about stoning him. The book of Psalms is full of his questions, pain, and victories.
What about Job? In one day, he lost his 10 children, all his wealth and was afflicted with a terrible skin disease. Though Job persevered with his affliction, he was not rewarded with a quick healing or restoration.
The simple correlation of wickedness and suffering in this world won’t hold up and, in discussion with friends, Job replied, “With Him are wisdom and strength, He has counsel and understanding. If He breaks a thing down, it cannot be rebuilt; If He imprisons a man, there can be no release. If He withholds the waters, they dry up; If He sends them out, they overwhelm the earth. With Him are strength and prudence. The deceived and the deceiver are His.” Job 12:13-16
What about John? Imprisoned and persecuted, was he in a place of doubt? The Messiah inflicted no judgment on the wicked. John heard nor saw no sign of impending judgement.
He then sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was ‘The One’ or “Do we look for someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see… And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Matthew 11:5-6
Jesus’ words spoke volumes but we don’t read of John’s response nor do we know if he received the message.
As believers, we must work through our expectations and emotions and begin to thank God for them. If we manage them in godly ways, our emotions cant control us and become ungodly. Instead, we begin to steward our emotions as a gift from God.
Suffering and prosperity are not equally-distributed to the evil or good a person does. In Job’s trials, he affirmed God’s absolute control over all things, bowing in submission to the heavy blows.
These faith-wrestling matches will lead us to worship Him as we witness little-by-little how our faith can regain strength as we fight against the superficial theology of our day.
Like Jacob’s wrestling, our faith must finally break out into victory – “Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel.” Genesis 33:20
God does reign over all of man’s affairs, from the greatest to the least. He’s inviting us to come into the most intimate communion with Him, moment-by-moment. Like Jacob who struggled with God and with men and overcame, we must build our altar and confess, “He is my God!”