Genesis 32 tells the story of Jacob wrestling all night with God. When the morning came, God said, “You will no longer go by the name Jacob. From now on, your name will be Israel because you have wrestled with God and humanity, and you have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28)
Of course, Jacob is a patriarch of the nation of Israel, from whom the nation received its name. The name, Israel, means “wrestles with God.”
Besides the literal event in Genesis 32, isn’t it interesting God named his chosen people, “You will wrestle with me.” And, Israel did. God’s people have always wrestled with God. We still do.
I’ve always enjoyed that little tid-bit. As a son of the “New Israel,” I’ve appreciated God welcoming our wrestling, rather than squashing us like bugs when we challenge him. In fact, God seems to initiate the wrestling, as life, and our ability to navigate it, is never easy.
I’ve relished digging at some deep theological question, some perplexing ethical dilemma, or some difficult passage of Scripture. Even when I’m left dazed and confused, I’ve found the wrestling stimulating, and even enjoyable.
But, right now, I’m tired of wrestling.
A month after the terrible tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, I continue to wrestle with questions I’ve never truly wrestled with before. Even though terrible tragedies happen all of the time, and always have, this one has literally hit much closer to home. Even though I’ve had neat theological answers in the past, they haven’t been working so easily for me lately. I haven’t even been directly affected by this tragedy. Yet, being a pastor in this community, at this moment, I feel an urgency to know what to say.
I don’t. I’m wrestling.
Why does a good God allow evil and suffering?
If we believe God intervenes in the affairs of this world sometimes, why not this time?
Why does God allow the innocent to suffer?
Is it sufficient to say, “God suffers with us?”
Is it sufficient to say, “Someday, all suffering will end?”
I’m torn between knowing that the answers to such questions exist in the realm of mystery, and needing to know the answers to my questions NOW. I’m torn between the reasonable theological answers I’ve been taught, and the lack of meaning they have for me at this particular moment.
I’m wrestling. But, right now, I’m tired of wrestling.
Maybe that’s the point.
Maybe we’re meant to wrestle until we’re worn out.
Maybe we’re meant to wrestle until we can’t wrestle anymore.
Maybe we’re meant to wrestle until we find some kind of peace with the One we are wrestling with.
Until then, as tired as I am, I’ll keep on wrestling, whether I find my answers or not.