In the first, young Billy Graham senses that God wants him to be an evangelist but it's the last thing he wants to do. So he wrestles with God about his future and God's will for him.
The second is the story of Abraham. The Lord is telling Abraham of his plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham pleads with him to save the city if there are enough righteous people living there. He successfully whittles the critical number from fifty to ten.
The third is about John Dunne lying on what he thinks is his deathbed, not understanding why God would do this to him just when he is in a place to do the most good for God.
The three questions are in italics below.
“What kind of attitude do you need to wrestle with God?”
You need a humble attitude, a heart that wants to do what’s right. Hmmm. I wrestled with God about Pearl and lesbianism a number of times and I didn’t always want to do what was right or pleasing to God. So why did I wrestle with him? Why did I bring the discussion to him? At least part of me wanted to do God’s will. Part of me cared what God had to say. Part of me wanted to honour God and to keep him in my life. Perhaps the needed attitude is one of honesty: “God, I want her so badly. I don’t want to let her go. I can’t imagine her out of my life. What you’re asking is just too hard.”
“What distinction is there, if any, between wrestling with God and arguing with God”
I think the distinction is motive, and it depends what you mean by arguing. It has to do with attitude also. Am I coming to God in a cavalier attitude that says, “I’m going to do whatever I want, regardless of what you say,” and basically telling God off? That is not wrestling. That’s boxing. But if my questions and arguing are intended to come closer to the mind of God and engage in real dialogue, to me, that’s the same as wrestling.
“How has God invited you to wrestle with him over situations in your life”
Ah, I’ve wrestled with him over so many things. The first one of note that I can remember is when I heard God tell me to return to Tom and I couldn’t believe that he was actually saying that because returning to Tom was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. I spent weeks in solitude and silence, praying, reading my Bible, discussing the conversation with others (okay, that wasn’t done in solitude or silence)—arguing and begging God to not send me back to Tom.
I’ve wrestled with the whole idea of staying in a painful marriage—why can’t I leave, God? It hurts too much. Coming to God over and over again, begging him to change Tom or set me free (for most of that time I didn’t realize that there was a lot of changing needed to be done in me as well). Finally, in the spring of 2004, God promised to completely heal our marriage beyond my hopes and expectations and, in the fall of 2006, I finally began to see evidence of that happening.
I’ve wrestled with God about my same-sex attraction issues, wanting to fully give in to those desires yet knowing that to do so would be against God’s will and not sure if I wanted God badly enough to leave those longings unmet.
I’ve wrestled with God about lost friendships—what do I do with the pain and how do I respond to a person who has cast me out of her life?
I’ve wrestled with God about living—wanting to end my life to end the pain and why can’t I, God?
I’ve wrestled with him about attitudes and behaviours of mine that he’s called me on and about circumstances that aren’t pleasant.
I’ve wrestled with God over friends and family—those holding on to a sin they weren’t ready to part with; the desperately ill; some wavering in their faith, questioning it and God; others in dire circumstances they need to be delivered from; some not interested in following God.
I've pleaded with God about people groups, nations and strangers, knowing they're in a very difficult place and wanting God to bring about a positive outcome.
How would you answer these questions for yourself? Have you ever wrestled with God? Do you feel comfortable with the idea of wrestling with your Creator and Saviour? What might you wrestle over with God?
God, I want to stay in dialogue with you about all things—bringing to you my questions, confusion, anger, excitement and problems, listening to hear what you have to say and knowing you love to be in conversation with your children. Thank you that we can come to you; that you're a Father who is loving, gracious and compassionate and who is willing to hear our honesty with an open heart.