Adam Young on Hope and Wrestling with God (1)

A friend recently pointed me to Adam Young’s podcast The Place We Find Ourselves. As a licensed social worker who has certifications in counseling and also an MDiv, Young thoughtfully combines psychological and emotional insights with Biblical truth in a way I haven’t encountered before. This morning the last 8 minutes of his Episode 18 discussion on hope and wrestling with God were just golden. The quote is long so I’ll split it into a couple posts.

God says “those who hope in Me won’t be disappointed”…. the difficulty is that you don’t know which of your longings God will meet in the land of the living, and you don’t want to wrestle with God about meeting those particular desires. Herein lies the biggest reason we hate hope: hope forces us to wrestle with God.

Most wrestling with God is avoided by a very simple phrase: “if it be Your will”. You express a desire to God and then you tack on this phrase. “If it be Your will.” “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Right? That’s the sentence. And it is a beautiful sentence, as long as it comes after a 12-round match of wrestling with God.

Now, you may be thinking ‘wait a minute, aren’t we supposed to surrender our will to God’s will?’ Yes! But that’s just the point. You’re called to surrender your will to God’s will. And what does surrender mean? It is to give in after a long, drawn-out bloody war. You can’t surrender until you have fought with God. And generals never surrender until they have fought to the end of their strength. Surrender only comes in a moment of exhaustion.

If you’re not exhausted from fighting with God, from bringing the longings of your heart repeatedly to God, then the words “not my will but Yours be done” aren’t words of surrender. They are words to avoid hope. Which is to avoid warring and wrestling with your God. You can’t talk about hope without talking about wrestling.

If you don’t find yourself regularly wrestling with God, chances are you don’t live with much hope. Because hope creates longing in you, and unfulfilled longings drive you to God, because God is the only one that can satisfy the longing. God is the only one that can make that thing happen. Until you take the risk of hoping that God will fulfill the desires of your heart in this life, until you bring your disappointment and anger to Him again and again, God will always remain strangely impersonal to you. You might know him as God the savior of the world, but you won’t know Him as what the Psalmists call ‘the God of my rescue’.

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