Wrestling

There is a distinct connection between the heart and the body. No, not the mechanical connection between the muscle that pumps life giving blood to the rest of the body, although that is a definite. Our bodies house our souls while we are on earth. And when something goes awry with the soul, the body follows.

At this moment I do not have a cold. But my body feels sick. I am not physically sick — just got a clean bill of health in my annual physical yesterday — yet I have that “about to get a cold” achy feeling from the top of my head right down to my toes. It’s followed me ever since last week, and it has everything to do with my grief at losing Shiner.

The feelings have been so intense that you could say I am having a crisis of faith. After stubbornly yelling at God in my head for awhile because he allows us free choice…which led to sin…which led to death due to old age and other means…and yelling at him because he did not give dogs a life span anywhere near that of those in their human “packs,”…and after yelling at him for not letting dogs instead of parrots live at least 80 years or so…

…I finally opened my Bible. It’s a good thing God is a tough guy. He can handle my anger. He can handle my grief.

So I began flipping through the gospel of Mark. Mark reminds me of a newspaper. It presents the facts. I needed a good refresher on the facts because I was drowning in so much sorrow that I’d forgotten all about Jesus. It’s not all hunky dory between God and me yet. I’m still mad. This time as I read, I kept having questions run through my head…and, here’s the key — I wrote them in the margins of my Bible. The questioning is not so unusual — I always have questions scrolling through my brain. Usually I push those that are about God and Christ to the back burner because if I examine them too closely, something bad might happen. Maybe I’ll turn into a frog. Or maybe I’ll decide that faith is useless and Christ was just a man who read up on all those Old Testament prophesies and then somehow arranged his life to fit them. Okay, yea, it’s probably more likely that I’d turn into a frog before I’d conclude that one person could somehow make over 300 prophesies come true in his life. The unusual part is that I gave voice to my questions.

I still don’t have answers. But the fact that I wrote them down means that I’ll be looking for them. And Jesus himself says that those who seek will find.

Since I need to shut off the bleeding, I need to focus my writing on something other than Shiner, at least for now. For a little while, I’ll explore some of my questions. I hope and pray they don’t harm you or your faith in any way. Please understand that, for the first time since I became saved as a little girl, I think I might have a glimmer of what it felt like when Jacob wrestled with God. I’m wrestling. I’m fighting the fight. I’m trying to understand some things — clearly — that have buzzed around in the back of my brain for a long time. It’s not that I don’t believe — it’s that I need to remind myself why I believe. Does that make sense? For example, if I have faith in Jesus to bring me comfort, why am I not feeling comforted? If I have faith in Jesus to heal me of my anxiety, why am I still anxious? Many of my questions have to do with my own faith. Maybe this is what “working out your faith” really means. Wrestling.

My questions today come from a passage in Mark 8. Here’s the passage in question:

31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man[c] must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. 32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.[d]

33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Why did Jesus call Peter Satan?

I’ll be brutally honest here. Something inside me smarts at Jesus’ rebuff of Peter. I can’t think of a WORSE name for someone to call me. The fact that JESUS did it speaks volumes. Was he just trying to get Peter’s attention? Sort of like I use my daughter’s full name when she’s in trouble? Or was it because Peter was unknowingly doing Satan’s bidding by trying to prevent Jesus from doing the task the Lord had already set before him? Or was it because at that moment Peter was Satan? The only way I know of to dig deeper here is to look at the original text. I don’t know Greek, but the website at Blue Letter Bible has a great concordance that allows you to get the original wording.

The first thing I learn is that when Jesus turned at looked at the disciples, he didn’t just look. He eidon them.  The word can mean to perceive, to discern.  To look at in order to examine.  This means that when Jesus looked at his disciples, he was likely reading their minds.  He knew what they were thinking.  And they were all thinking that they didn’t want their messiah to be killed.  So Peter, the spokesperson, took Jesus aside and began to reprimand him.

Has anyone under your authority reprimanded you?  It stings, doesn’t it?  I remember a first grade student I had who was a bona fide cowboy.  On picture day, he brought in his hat.  Of course he couldn’t wear it inside the classroom, so he handed it to me to put back on the counter.  It’s sufficient to say that  I was a complete ignoramus in all things cowboy, including hats.  I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to sit the hat down on its brim!  The glare and instruction that six year old cowboy gave me makes me squirm even today!

But unlike me, Jesus was not an ignoramus in all things God.  He was God’s son, and he had a job to do.  When he looked at Peter, he saw the thoughts running through his mind.  Peter was probably thinking the same thing I would have thought —

you mean to tell me that this person I’ve been following around, the One who can raise the dead and feed thousands with just a few loaves of bread…the One who can calm the seas with a word from his mouth…who can restore the sight to the blind and drive out demons…is going to DIE?  Inconceivable!

What about Jesus using the actual word…Satan…?  The word Jesus used was Satanas. It is a word used for two purposes: it is the name given to the prince of evil…it is also a name given to a Satan-like man.  That brings up another question.  What’s a Satan-like man?  It’s one who is adversarial to God.  Peter’s rebuke to Jesus was clearly, then, adversarial to God’s ultimate plan of redemption.  Peter was rebelling because the plan Jesus had just revealed to him was not the one he had expected.

It makes me wonder: would Jesus have had any disciples if he had revealed God’s ultimate plan at the outset of his ministry?  Probably not.  This is just a reminder that God’s timing is perfect.  Ours is not.

In my mind, Peter was acting perfectly human in his dismay.  Yet Jesus rebuked him in the harshest way possible.  He told him that he was only looking at life from a human perspective.  Which brings me to my next question:

How is it possible for a human to see things from God’s point of view?

This, I don’t know.  Perhaps Jesus was implying that Peter, a mere human, needed to trust Him, the Son of God, the Messiah, in ALL things, even in those that appear, to the human eye, to be ludicrous.  I struggle with this concept over and over.  I am trapped by my human perception of life.  As I mope around this house, feeling tears well up at the sight of a outdoor couch cushion that has seen much better days because my Shiner used to sleep so happily on it, I have a distinctly human perception of life.  Peter’s focus was on the here-and-now reality.  It was not on heaven.

That pretty much describes me even before this doggy death experience.  How does a person go around focusing on the things of God?  What are the things of God?  The Blue Letter Bible doesn’t really spell it out for me this time.  The word used is theos, and it means “the things of God…His counsels, interests, things due him.”

My best guess is that Jesus was telling Peter — Dude.  Have you forgotten Who I Am?  Get your mind off the things you THINK you know about (death) and back on Me (life.)

I’m going to be chewing over “the things of God” for awhile…not sure I’ll ever get that one…at least on this side of heaven.  I don’t even know if I’m supposed to be able to see things from God’s point of view.  Wouldn’t that be wrong?  I’m just a person.  I probably couldn’t bear to see even a millionth of what God sees.  So why did Peter get in such trouble when he was only doing what came naturally?  Are we supposed to be able to think more like Jesus (God) the closer we come to him?  If we don’t think like Him, does that mean we aren’t really saved?  If Peter, who was physically right there, touching Christ, could not see things from a godly perspective, how could I do that thousands of years after He walked the earth?

I think this is  where the Holy Spirit comes in.  And that opens a whole other set of questions that I’ll have to get to in another post.

For now, I’m wrestling with questions.  And with depression.  But the bright sunshine today and the promise of a spring-like afternoon brings a smile to my face.  Hopefully the warm sunshine will relieve some of the pain in my body and my heart.

2 thoughts on “Wrestling

  1. It’s so amazing…I had a discussion just last night with my husband along some of these lines.

    I’ve been reading a book called ‘Same kind of different as me’ that is a true story about a Christian couple befriending a homeless man. Not to ruin the book for you, but there’s a point where one of the people dies despite many prayers, ect. and it rocked me to my core.

    I have ALWAYS been one to question and argue with God. To wrestle with Him. Honestly, since I was a small child I would grill my mom on why God did certain things that seem contrary to His Word. Of course, she had no answers for me and neither does my husband now.

    It pains me to say this but my biggest struggles surround the Bible itself. Some of what it says APPEARS to contradict reality at times. How do I reconcile it saying ‘for everyone who asks receives…’ when clearly that isn’t the case?? I could easily list many more verses along these lines.

    This is a constant struggle for me. I sometimes can NOT pray for the life of me, because I think of all the prayers for healing a sick baby who then ends up dying, or prayers for a father to come home from war safely who then didn’t, and on and on. I ask myself, how can I pray for my daughter’s cold to get better if God let another woman’s child DIE???

    Sometimes, I’ll go for a few months where I’ll manage to shove all my doubts and confusion to the back of my mind for a bit, out of sheer will if nothing at all, but then something (like this book, this time around) will bring them all to the front again and I find myself challenging God once again.

    I DO NOT UNDERSTAND HIM. Period. And I want to more than I can ever express.

    Oh Christie, I’m sure my comment isn’t helping you one bit and for that I am SO sorry. I guess I just found a couple of the things you said so similar to the exact things I said to my husband (and God Himself) just a few hours ago!

    Tell you what….I’ll pray for you and you pray for me and maybe God will give us both a bit of wisdom to see through the fog right now. Can’t hurt, right?

    🙂

    1. I’m glad to know I’m not the only believer with questions!!

      It’s a relief, though, to NOT have all the answers. I like your idea. I pray for you, you pray for me, and God gives us wisdom. :o)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s