Struggle… the good kind…

(Some thoughts from a post I responded to at Todd Rhodes’ excellent site, Monday Morning Insight.)

I can’t stand the thought, anymore, of believeing something “easily”… I would rather struggle. I admit to “struggling” with many basic Christian doctrines. I still believe them, but I struggle with them. I admit it.

I struggle with the idea from Scripture that God only gives us what we can handle. I’ve seen people go through what seems like a lot more than they can handle, at least to me, so although I believe what Scripture tells me, I struggle with it. I wrestle with it, like Jacob did with the angel, getting him a new name that reflects that struggle, a name that the entire nation that comes from him bears to this day.

To blindly believe in something, or say that you do merely because you have intellectual assent to it but don’t actually “wrestle” with what it means, is no kind of faith, or at least no kind of biblical faith, at all, imho.

For instance… I struggle with the idea of Hell. I admit it. The thought that a loving God will send people I love to Hell is very hard for me to accept. I believe it, but anyone who says they believe it and it doesn’t “hurt” to, is either lying or heartless. I know all the scriptures and all the reasons, I’ve heard arguments from both sides, and it is more a struggle for me to believe that there is a Hell and reconcile how I live my life in front of people because of that… than to just not believe in a literal Hell at all, which is far easier…

It is harder, a deeper struggle, to believe, really believe, in Jesus, than not to. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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5 thoughts on “Struggle… the good kind…

  1. Glen says:

    Sounds dangerously close to the emerging/emergent deception creeping into the church. Yes, some truths should shock us…even grieve us (like the reality of hell) But I don’t need to “wrestle” with them to believe them as true….I just need to read them in the revealed Word of God. I guess I’m old fashioned….kind of like the bumper sticker I once saw that says, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

  2. pietrosquared says:

    Thanks Glen. I’m not sure I’d call myself emergent, and I’m pretty sure that I follow truth.

    “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” I guess I’m a little thankful that that is not from the Bible, becuase I continue to think that God truly wants us to wrestle with truth, not to craft it into something that we are comfortable with, and not to change ourselves to make us comfortable with it, but to understand it better.

    Peter has to have his vision three times before he’s willing to settle into the uncomfortable (to him) truth that what is clean and unclean is not as he understood it, and THAT was a guy who spent three years with Jesus in close quarters, so if HE has to “wrestle truth to the ground” I think we should, too.

  3. Gary says:

    Glenn, I think Peter is right about the struggle. Don’t look at the word struggle as doubt. You may believe and yet strive to understand. Look at the word struggle as striving to believe as fully as possible. Example: Your Science teacher told you that music can come through the air and come out of your radio. You believe that. This is a basic truth of electronics. You can live the rest of your happy life with that truth. But think about it . If you “struggle” with that truth a little, what happens? You obviously don’t doubt that music is being heard but your brain kicks into gear (which is a good thing) and you think, why, how, does that happen. You do the research and come away with More Truth – that high frequency energy can be transmitted over/through the air and received by a radio or other device. Does that make your radio sound any better? No. Does that make the science teacher wrong? No Did the “struggle” make you a better person or just prove that you are hard to convince? Would the science teacher be upset with you for doing the research? Why would it matter that you did the research if the music still sounds the same? So many questions to struggle with.

  4. Tony Ziolko says:

    Peter! I like this a lot. Cause Since I’ve been here, I’ve struggled with bring pretty pissed at God. With what my family is going through, it feels like this is WAY more than I can bear, and I actually struggled with the same part of scripture that says that. I’ve just struggles a lot with faith in general lately which led to doubts about it. Obviously I’ve realized that being pissed at God is kind of ridiculous, and relying on him is the obvious answer which I act on, but I do STILL struggle, and it feels good knowing I’m not alone, and that its okay to question and struggle. People here made me feel like I was a bad Christian because I was mad at God and struggles with certain Ideas of him and his gospel. Like this supposedly loving and gracious God that in the old testament was wrathing people, and killing them and being what was seeming very unloving. I guess how could thins gracious God love me, but yet take my father away, and even worse, my father doesn’t even want to talk to me. But yet I’m suppose to love this so called Unconditional God love. But when its all one sided, I feel very upset that he doesn’t give back in our relationship. But then someone wise recently told me…”Welcome to God’s World!” and “It’s not always about you!” By the way, this read today made me feel more relaxed! Thank you!

  5. Andrew Hamm says:

    Wasn’t there a pretty good songwriter who once wrote “Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight”?

    There’s a long-standing Jewish tradition of being angry at God, of arguing with Him. He made us smart for a reason: to stretch the limits of our knowledge and grow in wisdom, and part of that, I believe, is struggling with His Truth.

    I struggle with, and cling to, the four words, “Thy will be done.” The question is, do we accept God’s will like unthinking Christian clones, or do we accept and struggle for discernment? The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

    I’m with you, Peter on the subject of Hell. Clearly it’s real; Jesus talks about Hell more than the entire rest of the Bible combined. But it doesn’t seem to gibe with what my mind pictures as God. Maybe this is more about the arrogance of having a mental picture of God in the first place. There’s another contradiction; through the Word and Christ we are encouraged to know Him, but he is by definition unknowable by His nature as God.

    There’s a holiness to Christian confusion. Perhaps the first wisdom is ackowledging that the best we can hope for is to be fools in God’s sight.

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