*This blog is the second post of a two part series. In the first blog we asked an important question; the answer is addressed in this blog.
In the last blog we gave you a story of Jacob wrestling with an angel, we then asked the question if it was okay to argue with God, or rather, in this case, to wrestle with him. The answer is, respectfully, yes.
You see, the God of Israel desires a deep relationship with all his people. If you’re reading this, it means that you’re alive, and if you’re alive, it probably means you’ve interacted with human beings as well. These interactions result in what is called “relationship.” Some interactions between humans are stronger than others. And they manifest themselves in different ways, like parent-child relationships, sibling-sibling relationships, grandparent-grandchild, boyfriend-girlfriend, husband-wife, friend-friend, among others. Just as these relationships have a certain ebb and flow to them (ups and downs), so does our relationship with God. We argue with our parents because we see things differently from the way they do. We get mad at our friends because we feel let down by them; we fight with our siblings because we want things our own way. These are the things that make us the way God created us to be: homo sapiens, or in easier terms, humans.
Being human means being fully aware of our shortcomings. We know that we sin and that it is impossible for us to be perfect. HaShem knows this, too. He knows that as human beings we do not hold the ability to be perfect. He knows that when someone hurts us, we feel pain or anger or resentment. He knows that when bad things happen to us, it’s hard for us to comprehend why, and he knows that we sometimes blame him as well. He knows the struggles we have with our flesh; he understands the emotional makeup of our hearts. This is one of the incredible things about our God: he sees our pain and has the power to heal the brokenhearted and bind up our wounds (Psalm 147:3).
Toward the end of the summer, the Jews welcome in the Hebrew month of Elul. The Jewish understanding of this month gives a heavy focus on preparing for the upcoming fall High Holy Days—most importantly Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. The Hebrew letters that spell the Hebrew month of Elul comprise the acronym Ani L’dodi v’dodi li, which means, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” This is a quote from the Bible in Song of Songs. Elul also carries with it the famous saying “The king is in the field.” In Judaism, this is a mystical idea that during the Hebrew holy month of Elul, HaShem, the King, comes down to meet us where we, his servants, are working in the field.
Elul is a month of repentance, relationship building, and facing our King in the field. This is a time when we bring out all our anger toward HaShem and openly expose to him in the field the “fight” we’ve been in and the burdens we’ve carried over the entire year. This is the month in which we have a chance to wrestle honestly with ourselves and HaShem.
A lot of times we feel anger toward HaShem regarding things that have happened to us. This is completely normal and can even be turned around for good. Interestingly enough, what often strengthens relationships is a healthy dose of struggling, arguing, forgiving, and learning to relate on a deeper level.
Don’t be afraid to wrestle with your angel. Don’t be afraid to ask God why certain things happen and don’t be afraid to approach the King of the universe in your raw human form. HaShem in his wisdom chose to make us human beings—he knew when he was creating us in our mother’s wombs that we would have good and bad inclinations, that we would be exposed to hurt, frustration, pain, joy, and happiness. He knew that we would go through phases in our lives of being angry at him. He knew that we would feel deep disappointment in the world in which he had placed us in. Hiding these feelings only suppresses the emotions HaShem gave us to feel.
As young adults, we often feel that the deck is stacked against us. We feel as if we have a million dynamics to deal with. New situations arise, and fresh pains that we’ve never faced before come our way. Disappointments in our families, our friends, and even ourselves hit us in the face. On top of all that, we have the tremendous pressure of our futures looming ahead of us. Where will we go to college? Whom will we marry? These and other new life challenges can make us feel very alone and very disconnected from God.
You might think, He is up there in heaven expecting me to be perfect, and I am down here making bad choices sometimes and just trying to deal with my life, right? Wrong! HaShem is with you, and he wants you to talk to him, wrestle with him, shout at him, throw your hands up, and pour all your heart’s weariness on him. He knew what he was doing when he brought you into the world, he knows what you’re going through, and he knows exactly how you feel, so you might as well not try to hide from him. He deeply longs to hear you reach out to him. He is there to be your help.
I encourage you to take some time during the special month of Elul to meet the King in the field. Run to him, cry to him, and allow him to hold you. Our forefathers argued with God often—Jacob wrestled with God, Abraham challenged God, and Moses disobeyed God numerous times in his journey. HaShem still chose to use them mightily; he still loved them and manifested his great name through their lives—just as he can do through you! #dontgetlostoutthere