According to wrestlingname.com my wrestling name is “Grizzly Giant”… I don’t know how it works it out but if I put my full name in it changes to “Nature Boy Hellfire”! To be honest, I’m not that impressed by either of those so I think my pro wrestling debut may have to go on hold until I can come up with something a little more, well… cool.
Whether or not you have a wrestling name or even care about the “sport”, did you know that God wants you to be a wrestler?
Perhaps not the lycra wearing, fist pumping, nipple flexing, fake tanned pro wrestler (and that’s fine if you’re into that), but certainly someone who struggles with life and wrestles with their life experience and what they know of God. In fact, this is at the heart of what God wants you to wrestle with. How do you respond when your experience of life doesn’t match what you know to be true of God? What do you do when you know God loves the world and desires all people to be saved (1 Tim 2:4) and yet you see the people of the world suffering under famine, flood, drought, earthquakes and disaster, and you see your friends and family continue to refuse the gospel of Jesus?
There are even tougher questions than these to face in life, but as you experience more suffering, and as your faith in Christ is battered and bruised by doubt, God wants you to wrestle. This has always been the case with God’s people, in fact, God’s first chosen nation Israel is named after a wrestler! That’s right Israel means “struggles with God“. It’s the name God gave to Jacob because he “struggled with God and with human beings and had overcome.” (Genesis 32:28). It’s an amazing moment in the overall biblical story when Jacob (whose name originally means “deceiver”) finally comes to understand, after wrestling his whole life to secure God’s blessings, that God has always been in control and has always intended to bless him despite Jacob’s experience of life in hardship and in scandal. Jacob doesn’t abandon God or detach himself from God, instead he wrestles.
When life gets tough God doesn’t want you to be an illusionist who pretends all is well, he doesn’t want you to be a Houdini who looks to escape, nor does he want you to be a hermit who looks to detach… God wants you to stand and wrestle with him and wrestle with life. This is what Job does, this is what the Teacher in Ecclesiastes does, this is what Daniel does, this is what is happening in Lamentations, this is what the Psalms are for and why they are such a comfort for us as we navigate our way through life. In fact, the Psalms invite us to wrestle with God and our experience in prayer, even more so, they show us how to do it and even equip us to be wrestlers!
The prophet Jonah is a good example here. You remember the story: Jonah was told to go to Nineveh and tell them to repent, but he fled the opposite direction across the sea, God caused a huge storm, Jonah was thrown overboard but God rescued him by sending a big fish to swallow him, remember? Well you can imagine that Jonah had plenty of time for reflection on his suffering as he lay squished up against the rotting carcasses in the bowels of a big fish; and as he was slowly being digested by the fishy stomach acid and bile he may well have thought that God had abandoned him to the grave. His experience certainly made it look that way, and he would’ve been forgiven for giving up on God. But what does Jonah do? He wrestles with God in prayer! And not just any prayer, he uses the language of the Psalms to form his prayer. Pull out your Bible, turn to Jonah 2 and compare his prayer with Psalm18:6; 120:1; 18:4-5; 42:7; 139:7; 5:7; 69:2; 30:3; 142:3; 18:6 again; and 3:8. You’ll notice that Jonah was a good student of the Psalms, and they equipped him to wrestle even in the midst of suffering and despair.
If you’re struggling with life at the moment, if you’re wrestling with your faith in Jesus, if you’re fighting to reason how your experience of life connects with the God who has revealed himself in the Bible, then don’t give up! Keep wrestling! Search the scriptures, talk with your brothers & sisters in Christ, share your struggles with God in prayer, and ask your friends to wrestle for you in prayer also so that you’ll stand secure and fully assured in everything God wills.