Saturday, August 29, 2009

Struggling with God

The following is a partial response to the question in the comments section of the last entry. I’ll have more later. Feel free to add your own comments.

I think God especially admires the quality of perseverance.

Jacob of the Old Testament did not exhibit many noble traits like his grandfather Abraham. In fact, it’s hard for me to like the guy because he lied, cheated, and bargained unfairly. But God favored him because he was persistent. He kept coming back to God for a blessing. The story is told that he wrestled all night with an angel and would not stop, even after he was crippled, until he received a blessing. In the end, he got one and his name was changed to Israel, which means, “He Who Struggles with God.”

If we look back at the prophets of the Old Testament, we see that they often argued with God, sometimes quite bitterly. They challenged God, accused him of being unfair, showed anger that God had left them so alone. When things didn’t make sense they didn’t shy away. They asked the hard questions

God did not respond harshly. He honored them for their persistence. They are on record in scripture as being the greatest of God’s servants.

Now consider the challenge that JeezFreaked wrote in the comments section of the last entry:

Jesus has not kept any of his "promises" to me. For years, he has closed every window on my hands, slammed every door in my face…. I keep asking, seeking, and knocking until my knuckles are bloody. He knows where I am. I have no idea where he is. I've about had it with him. So I'm doing as you suggested, asking the difficult question, which is this: What do you say to people like me? You've already eliminated the stupid cliche answers, which I appreciate. But what's left? ---JeezFreaked---

Jesus made a bold promise to us when he said that when we seek, we shall find. Like JeezFreaked, I have felt a frustration because this promise has not always come true. I gave JF a short answer at the time, but I’ve been considering it since then.

Is it wrong to say I haven’t always found God’s promises to be fulfilled? Even if it is, I am in good company with Abraham, Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, and many of the psalmists. There’s also Nathaniel, whom Jesus called the “man in whom there is no guile.”

Some of those guys got their answers relatively quickly. Some had to wait all their lives to receive their answers. And some never got their answers during their lifetimes. But they are honored in history. Hebrews 11:39-40 says:

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

How do I answer JeezFreaked? Should I say that it’s a matter of patience and faith? Or I could give the more honest answer, which is that I don’t know.

What I do know is that there is honor and nobility in the perseverance.


  1. David, thank you for taking several days to give my questions serious thought, and for writing an intelligent, honest response to what were admittedly almost impossible questions. You are not like most other pastors or Christians, who do not have the guts to even listen to the questions, much less summon the courage and humility to speak the beliefs they understand and admit to the ones they don't.

    Atheism is an untenable position from any angle. But believing that the Jehohah of the Hebrew scriptures is the true God takes more faith (or should I say gullibility and dishonesty) than I am capable of. And everything that follows in the New Testament is a clumsy attempt to cobble the two Testaments together. This is no reason to abandon Jesus or everything in the Bible, because there is much truth there. But it is apparent to me now that all of these men, including Jesus, were searching, sometimes desperately like I am. It's time for me to broaden that search. Decades of defeat make it unthinkable to waste what's left of my life hoping that I will understand someday. I stand ready to serve him, but I am not going to tie myself to "The Holy Bible" anymore. Heretical as it may sound, I have to conclude he's pulling me in another direction. (And no, "Satan" is not doing it - what an easy copout, used by every cult I'm aware of to shut down honest dissent.) Today's heresy is tomorrow's orthodoxy.

    Thank you again for your helpful, respectful, affirming article. You have my gratitude and admiration, which you probably receive little of, because today's Christians do not value the kind of honesty you've revealed here. They value cowardly guilt-slingers and call them saints. THAT is Satanic. God bless and protect you. ---JeezFreaked---

  2. David, I don't know who JeezFreaked is but I can certainly identify with him/her. Maybe we should ban together and search the answers together???? Minco follower