I’ve said jokingly many times that, “God and I are going to have a conversation when I get up to heaven.” There are just some things that I don’t understand why He has done what He has done and I’d like a good explanation! Today it is Paul and I. I fully intend to sit him down and ask, “Why in the world did you not explain yourself further? Do you realize the torment you put me through?”
I spent a lot of time yesterday wrestling with a passage of scripture that Paul wrote that I don’t fully grasp. It is one that has come up over and over in the past decade. I’m a slow learner I guess. I feel like Jacob wrestling with the angel….I won’t let go until you bless me with the complete understanding! “You know, Paul, just another sentence of explanation would have been sooo helpful!”
I believe God intends for us to wrestle with His Holy Word. It is in the process of wrestling (suddenly the actual sport of wrestling seems very vivid) that He deepens and strengthens our faith. Digging into the original language – does that word really translate to that meaning, or is there a slightly different understanding that changes the whole picture? What was the cultural context that he was speaking to that I don’t understand because our culture is so foreign to theirs? Does the cultural difference change how I apply this scripture to my life? Is this passage prescriptive, descriptive, symbolic, or what? Is he being sarcastic? Oh the hurdles of the written language!
I generally seek godly counsel to help me understand difficult passages. I ask multiple respected sources. Read, study, re-read and pray to gain wisdom and clarity. I want to know what smarter people than I think about them. I want to try to understand every side of every possible understanding. I examine the broader scriptures around the passage to get the big picture of what is being said. I love it when the truth that God reveals is both and – what on the surface seems to be contradictory, in truth is both and then some. I trust God’s Holy Spirit within me to guide my understanding. He so chooses, in this particular case, that I challenge the general, consensus thinking about a cultural, Christian norm in America. I am learning that sometimes (often) God’s Word has multiple layers of equally valid application for many different people, places, times, and circumstances. He wants to change each heart to be like Jesus and He uses the finite words written in His Holy scripture to do so. That is miraculous! His word is living and active! Praise God!
So, for me, for now, this passage has become precious. It reveals the heart of God. He is pleased when we struggle mightily to understand who He is and what He desires of us. The difficulty in scripture passages is intentional. We should gladly accept it as an invitation by God to come deeper to learn more about Him. He has more for us!
In case you are curious about what particular passage I am currently processing, it is 1 Corinthians 11:1-16.
Father God, You have said if we lack wisdom that we should ask You for it, who gives generously to those who ask. Please pour out your wisdom to my head and my heart so that I may not sin against You nor may I make anyone stumble in their faith. My heart’s desire is to please You in all areas of my life and to do Your will. Help me to honor my husband with my words, my actions, and my attire. Help me to lay aside as secondary any consideration for what others may think of me as I seek to obey You. Show us Your will Lord. Amen.
Don’t just skim over God’s Word and dismiss it as confusing. Start asking questions. Seek until you understand. Pray for wisdom and understanding. God will provide it.
Be encouraged. Press on.