Sometimes, it is hard for me to put myself ‘out there’ and show a side of myself that I am not necessarily proud of. However, when we are vulnerable enough to show our human frailty for God’s glory – well, I believe He honors that. You see, I think the Lord is showing me a some things which may help others, also. That is why I am sharing this (somewhat) personal encounter, as follows.
The other day, in the wee hours of the morning, I was having a hard time sleeping. I had been a bit discouraged and feeling like my prayers weren’t being answered in the way I would like. In my prayers, I’d beg and plead with God; yet, saw no obvious change. Due to chronic health issues, my prayers were primarily focused on healing. I prayed, “God heal me, God heal me, God heal me…” to the extent that, sadly, I didn’t really care about much else. I just wanted to feel well and be able to live life without such limitations, once again.
Sleep escaped me as my mind raced with thoughts of worry, doubt, and despair – wondering what my future would be like. Then, out of the blue, my right hip began to hurt. It had never bothered me before, so I had no idea why I was in pain for no apparent reason. Nevertheless, right about that time, a thought flashed through my mind. This thought was so strong that my eyes literally popped wide open!
My hip pain reminded me of the biblical account when Jacob wrestled with God and his hip was put out of joint (see Genesis 32:24-32). Finally, God told Jacob, “Let me go…” In other words, “Stop wrestling with me.” Those words… “Stop wrestling with me,” entered my mind and spirit so strongly. It was as if God were speaking those words directly to me – saying, “Stop wrestling with me over what you want yet do not have… just love me.” In other words, “Pause the constant striving after things and stop this war with me. Remember to love me. Love me for who I am… Just love me.”
Those words within my spirit, “Stop wrestling” and “Just love me” did not feel cutting or sharp at all; rather, the words came as a sweet permission to rest… to rest in His love, knowing He will take good care of me. That’s not to say that praying for healing is prohibited; nor does this imply that He does not want us to bring our cares before Him and travail in prayer. But, I think all too often, we have a hard time confidently putting everything into His hands and trusting Him with it. We feel that somehow our ‘wrestling’ and ‘warring’ with Him will somehow help matters. Oftentimes, our persistent pleadings can easily begin to have a tinge of anger toward God sprinkled throughout. We inwardly feel He is being unjust or unkind – when, in reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. Nonetheless, we all but ‘fight’ with God for what we want or feel that we must have.
Again, let me make this abundantly clear – in scripture, we are encouraged to be diligent in prayer and persevere with faith; this type of great faith is to be admired. We don’t give up, but we persist in prayer with faith in our Lord. For an excellent example of how persistence in prayer is key – let’s remember Luke 11:5-9 which states:
“He also said to them: Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I don’t have anything to offer him.’ Then he will answer from inside and say, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I have gone to bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he won’t get up and give him anyting because he is his friend, yet because of his friend’s persistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”
So, while persistence is key we must also be very careful not to ‘argue’ with God over what we want and feel is best; which is a very unhealthy way to ‘wrestle’ with God. In contrast, a healthy ‘wrestling’ with God will only come when we diligently seek hard after Him for His Will; when we don’t let go until we see His full control in all areas of our lives. Let us boldly bring our requests and desires before God… yes; but, we must not argue with Him in order to obtain them. Do you see the difference?
As I pondered these thoughts, the words to an old, familiar hymn entered my mind. Inwardly, I sang every verse and chorus of the song, “It Is Well With My Soul.” My spirit sang, “When peace like a river attendeth my way; when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, you have taught me to say – it is well, it is well with my soul.” I thought, “Why is it well with my soul?” The answer came in one of the following verses. “My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought – my sin, not in part, but the whole; is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul!”
In all the uncertainties of life, I can be sure of one thing: It is well with my soul. No sickness, pain, death, disaster, or catastrophe can steal my salvation. That is why it is well with my soul! My redemption is sealed with the deposit of His Holy Spirit within me and those of us who are Christians. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest [deposit] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13-14).
We are promised eternal bliss that will never end, when this life is over! Until then, God is able to keep us until that day when, as the song says, “my faith shall be sight”; and, “the clouds be rolled back as a scroll. The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend. Even so, it is well with my soul!” Until then, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lam. 3:22). And “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come – let this blessed assurance control; that God has regarded my helpless estate and has shed His own blood for my soul.” After I really meditated upon the fact that God has my soul secure in the palm of His hand, I could understand why the assurance He gives is called, ‘blessed assurance.’
On challenging days, the Christian can be assured that suffering will not last forever. There’s coming a day when it will be eternally ended! Although it’s easy to get discouraged, hasty, angry, and cynical; this isn’t the right way that leads to life. At times, we may wrongly become argumentative with God when we’re under duress; but, we must reverence Him and understand that He knows best and loves/cares for us. Personally, I want nothing within my character that will put a wedge between me and my precious, loving Savior. If we must wrestle, let us wrestle with ourselves as we strive to be pleasing to our Heavenly Father.
So, I close with these two questions…
“Are you wrestling?” Or, “Are you resting in God’s love and mercy?” Thank God for reminding us of this truth – that we needn’t wrestle with Him; but completely trust Him as we pray in faith. He is our wonderful Heavenly Father. Let us rejoice in the God of our salvation and rest – assured that He will keep us!
*NOTE – I would highly encourage you to check out the links below.