An excerpt from an article titled “Jacob and our wrestling match with God,” featured on the website Mishpacha reads as follows: “Like his grandfather before him, Jacob received a new name from God, symbolizing a transformation. Among the understandings of the name Israel are: One who wrestles with God [and] One who is straight (direct, honest) with God.”
In the wake of their brother Lazarus’ death, both Martha and Mary had some straight, honest talk for Jesus. While their brother was still sick, “the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, ‘Lord, your dear friend is very sick.’” (John 11:3). But Jesus “stayed where he was for the next two days” (v 6), only making a move after Lazarus had died. When he arrived in Bethany, Martha went out to meet him, and the first words out of her mouth were “Lord if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” (v 21). In response, “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (v25).
Encouraged, Martha went to get her sister. When Mary arrived on the scene, she echoed Martha’s statement (v 32). Seeing her pain, Jesus wept with her (v 35). Then he “shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ And the dead man came out” (vv 43-44).
In return for their confusion and pain, Jesus gave the sisters encouragement, comfort and restoration. This was an exchange the Psalmists understood. Author Pamela Greenberg writes, “The first and most obvious thing about the psalms is that they awaken us to the possibility of speaking honestly about our pain. So many distortions rise up when we react to our emotional lives rather than expressing our sorrows and hurts in a transformative way.”
If you’re hurting, confused, bewildered or overwhelmed, will you give your wounds to Jesus and accept His healing in their place?
Next: Read Psalm 6 and consider the raw honesty of David’s expression.
How comfortable do you feel with honestly expressing your emotions to God? How does this compare with what the Bible says about approaching God?
Greenberg, Pamela. 2010. Speaking Our Pain: Anguish, Wonder, and Comfort in the Psalms. Tikkun 25(4): 30