I recently went through a time of wrestling with the Lord. This past year has been a year filled with an incredible amount of pain and joy. My heart has been pulled in every direction imaginable and I felt at times that my foundation was shifting like sand. I felt empty and lost. I was overwhelmed and I broke down. Spiritually, I broke down and in that moment, all the feelings and doubts that I tried to suppress came flowing out. In that moment, God was not good. I wasn’t able to believe that He was good. My mind knew what his word said, that He was good and that He was worthy of trust but my heart was doubting.
It was a scary time, my cry was like the father who cried to Jesus “Lord I believe, but help my unbelief”. In my moment of fear and weakness I desperately needed God to reveal himself to me. I was so afraid because I started to believe that my foundation wasn’t solid. My anchor was not what I thought it was. In the world, people disappoint us and we start seeing who they really are and it shakes us to the core and it frightens us when we realize that this realization will change things. Now imagine feeling like that about God. Imagine when you start doubting who God is. The devil knows that it can destroy us when we start doubting God and so he works his schemes. That’s what started happening to me.
My problem with God was that I just couldn’t reconcile what was happening to me and around me with who He said He was. I started to believe that what happened to me was a result of my past sins. I started to believe that God, even though I was saved, wanted to punish me and that He was indeed punishing me. I was mixing the lies of my culture with God’s heart forgetting that I passed from culture to grace. It was such an awful thing to go through.
There was a wrestling in my mind and unlike Jacob, I desperately needed God to win. If my thoughts won, I’d be lost. Maybe you feel this way right now or you’ve felt this way before. You feel that you can’t believe that God is good in your suffering. I now have a better understanding of why people find it hard to believe in God while seeing so much evil in the world. I never understood it but now I do and my heart hurts for them.
Faith comes by hearing
My experience, your experience, their experience, is it all just the result of a lack of faith? Yes and no. No because faith isn’t something that comes out of the blue, faith is a result of what you hear. And we experience these moments of doubt because we aren’t hearing the right things. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17. Everyone and everything speaks around us but there needs to be a voice that speaks louder than all of them. That voice needs to be God’s word if we are to endure in faith.
“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” Hebrews 12:18-24
I wept as I read those verses. For so long I was approaching God through Sinai. I saw Him as a God who would strike me at moment. But this verse tells me, that I HAVE NOT come to that mountain, I have come to mount Zion, to a festal gathering, to a living God who perfects! Most importantly, there is a voice that speaks, the blood of Jesus which speaks BETTER things. This verse doesn’t say “you are coming to” no it says you and I have already arrived.
Our hearts need to be fine tuned so that we can start receiving the right signals for our soul. In my moment of fear, I cried to the Lord and he heard me. I was incredibly honest with him. Why hide it? He already knew exactly what I thought about him.
“Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord” Psalm 139:4.
“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3).
I told him, Lord I believe and read that you are good but I don’t see it in my life right now. God, I believe and read that you are no longer condemning me for my past sins but Lord my heart can’t reconcile what is happening and what your word says. I told him, that I was so confused, so broken and just tired and in that moment, I didn’t see him as a God who is merciful. I viewed him as a God who wanted to crush me (I forgot that it pleased him at one point in time to crush someone else for my transgressions Isaiah 53).
Some of you need to do exactly this, you need to be honest with your Maker. Often times as Christians we think that God hates our questions, he hates it when we voice out our concerns. That couldn’t be further from the truth, God is not a God who is afraid of your questions. He is not afraid of your doubts, you won’t hurt his feelings by being honest. Your dishonesty is what grieves him. The reason we are afraid to be honest is because we don’t know the difference between honesty with reverence and disrespectful honesty. Political correctness doesn’t work with God. Actually, it doesn’t work with anyone.
You know what I love about God? As I was pouring my heart to him and telling him how I felt, he came down. The Lord met me right where I was and showered me with peace. He didn’t wait for me to get better or to figure it out myself. He came to me. He comes to you! Even though all this wrestling and doubting is a result of our own shortcomings. There’s nothing wrong with him, but he comes to us regardless. It’s so good to know that my relationship with God is not solely dependent on how I feel or what I do. If we’re all honest, God is the one doing everything.
As a good Father, he saw that his child was hurting and confused about who he was and he came and revealed himself. He showed me how to know exactly who he is. He didn’t wait for me to find him, he came to me. I then understood that my foundation was never shifting. I was.
“When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:21-26
He doesn’t change, He’s the same God
The God at Mount Sinai, who spoke through the tempest and darkness is the same God who speaks at Mount Zion. If we approach him through Sinai, we will find the law (not Christ), heaviness and condemnation. But if we approach him through Mount Zion in Jesus-Christ we find peace, justification and faith. If you can’t reconcile God’s goodness and your suffering, it’s probably because, like me, you are approaching God through the law at Sinai.
My foundation has and always will be immovable. If you are founded on the Rock, if your foundation is Jesus-Christ then rest assured that He will never be shaken. He will never change. Therefore, don’t doubt.
“No one is holy like the Lord for there is none besides You, nor is there ANY rock like our God” 1 Samuel 2