By Pastor Kevin Barnhart
Spring Grove Evangelical Free
The steady thrumming of the rain beating down on the windows matches my heartbeat. I am struck with an oppressive feeling that sometimes life seems to be one big valley. Do you understand this feeling? The news is teeming with so much sadness and sorrow, people shouldn’t die, marriages shouldn’t end, homelessness, poverty, brokenness, frustration, fields that don’t produce, dreams that never come, hopes that fall short – sin. Sin entered our stories, and it has been a brutal battle ever since.
We know the story’s end so why doesn’t it feel like the good guy won, like love rules over all? Being a Christian isn’t easy, life is not easy. But does it really have to be this HARD?
Somewhere a fire starts in the belly of my soul; it shouldn’t be this way. That’s it, the gloves are off!
Jacob wrestled with God through the night, and he refused to let go. It’s obvious that neither Jacob, nor I could wrestle with God any sooner than we could hold all the sand on the shore. God is omnipotent, he is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning, and the end. There is nothing that hides from Him, isn’t created by Him, or can overpower Him. Nevertheless, the gloves are off. My heart needs a moment to wrestle with God. I am frustrated, I feel beat up, pushed around, knocked down and defeated. I am planting seeds, praying, seeking, searching, and desperate for the living GOD, so where is He? The field looks barren…the scene feels hopeless, and the battle rages on.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Do you know who says this? Jesus. God’s one and only Son. Jesus is deeply familiar with sorrow. He knows despair, tears, frustrations, loss, love, desertion, desperation… Jesus knows every single emotion that bubbles up from your soul.
The days turn into nights and still I am struggling with God…now I am not sure why but Alexa is playing worship music… I was hoping for maybe the Rocky theme song… it seemed more fitting. I went to change the music and the lyrics stopped me in my tracks “all my life you have been faithful…” It hits me like a ton of bricks, and I fall to my knees. Memories of God’s love and faithfulness begin to flood my heart – all of it – the good, the bad, the joyful, and the sorrowful; all of the days of my life rushed over me and once again I was reminded of all the blessings that have been, are, and will be in my life, I am reminded of His promises, His words, His Hands, and He rises up in my heart once more…
In throwing off the gloves… I was laid bare before God. It was here in this space that God could dive deeper into the cracks. In this sacred wrestling match God could masterfully take hold of all my broken pieces, take hold of every tear, every frustration, every angry moment, he can take all the dreams, joys, hopes, and sorrows of all my days and he can make things new. What’s more is that He not only can, He does, and He WILL.
Where is your heart? Let God have all of you. All your joys, sorrows, questions, doubts, frustrations, dreams, hopes, exhausted sighs, all of it. God is honored by a faithful wrestling match.
This world, our story; it may not seem like the perfect fairy tale as we walk in the here and now, as we live in the valleys of life… but God has won the WAR. He has. Let the end of the story interpret the beginning the middle and everything in between. Christ has RISEN.
You may not see the harvest growing at the speed you want, or you may feel stuck in the valley… but as you wait as you wrestle with him – trust in God with everything you are and lean not on your own understanding… fall onto your knees and FALL into HIM. Don’t give up on hope, faith, or love – don’t give up the gospel. Wrestle with Him – he can handle it, let your heart pour out to him, let him carry you, let others be your strength for a season… do what your heart needs to do… but never give up on God! He will never give up on you. “I will never leave you nor forsake you” – take that promise into every battle. And remember…
God knows. God loves. God lives. God WON.