Many times Christianity feels like a very mystical religion. The virgin birth. Salvation. Forgiveness. It’s all these abstract concepts that are hard to fully grasp in our concrete minds.
When we can’t understand or explain things, we can tend to push the questions to the back of our mind and end up living either apathetically towards the hard things of the Gospel or simply walking away from Christianity altogether.
Neither of these responses are truly satisfying. When you sit in a quiet room by yourself, both of those responses leave you wondering if maybe, just maybe, you’re missing out on something?
After years of people in the church telling me “there are just some things you won’t understand on this side of heaven” and me trying to just keep my mind disengaged from the hard things of God, there came a point in my mid 20’s when I decided to take I Corinthians 2:11 and John 14:16 serious.
“no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God”
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”.
According to these verses, the Spirit of God comprehends the thoughts of God AND the Spirit of God, who lives inside us as believers, will teach us all things. Therefore, we don’t have to disengage our minds to be followers of Christ. God has given us His Spirit to teach us. We just have to be willing to be taught.
In fact, maturing in your faith often requires you to engage your mind in these hard things of God. Here’s a few ways I’ve found to wrestle through these hard concepts.
First, identify something your mind has a hard time grasping, understanding, or believing.
For me, one of the last things I wrestled through was with the blood of Christ. The idea that His blood must be shed AND his body broken seemed extreme in some senses and gruesome in others. I had read through every Old Testament account, and I knew the intellectual reasons why and the prophecies, but it was still hard for my mind to be thankful and emotionally engaged and not somewhere in the back of my mind question why God needed both of those. Why death in and of itself wasn’t simply enough? Identifying one of those issues in your own mind is the first step in wrestling with God.
Second, pray and ask God, through his Spirit, to give you understanding of the thoughts of God about this particular issue.
This doesn’t mean every second of every day you have to be in prayer about this topic, but it does look like you frequently asking God to lead you to understanding. Often asking God for help to understand ends up looking a lot like the father in Mark 9 who wanted his son healed. In part of the father’s brain, he knew Jesus could heal his son, but the other part of his brain wanted to hedge his bets so he wouldn’t be disappointed if Jesus didn’t come through. So he asked Jesus, “If you can” will you heal my son? Jesus replied to this man “If you can’?…“Everything is possible for one who believes”.
The man’s response to Jesus’ statement should be ours as well as we pray for understanding of the hard concepts. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
Third, put some work in.
God has given you his Word so dive in and get to work. Use a study Bible and look up a key word in the concordance. Then read every single verse having to do with that word. I spent hours reading and rereading every verse through the entire Bible that had the word “blood” in it. Write the verses out, pray through the verses, cross reference the verses with other places in the Bible. Use Biblegateway.com and look at the verses in multiple translations and paraphrases. The point is chase after God on whatever you are wanting to understand and He will help you.
Wrestling with God isn’t just a statement saying you don’t understand. It is you humbling yourself, admitting your thoughts are not His thoughts and His ways are not your ways, begging Him to give you the understanding and wisdom He has promised, and then putting yourself in the presence of God continually so the Helper can teach you.
It’s not easy to wrestle with God, and it takes work on your part. But don’t be scared. Identify an area in your walk with the Lord where you desire greater understanding and start to press into that topic. Let God reveal himself to you as you wrestle through the hard things.
I promise you it will be worth it.