Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. … So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” - Genesis 32:24, 30 (NRSV)
As a minister, I have the privilege/responsibility of responding to people’s deepest questions. The most frequent request has something to do with a version of this question: “How am I supposed to respond to this?”
My ego tells me I have a fantastic answer. But my faith tells me something different. Because the truth is that there is no one way to listen to God, engage God, ask questions of God.
This doesn’t mean that there won’t be folks who will tell you otherwise. There are some who will tell you that they know exactly how God wants you to respond to a challenging moment. (Heck, if I’m honest, I’ve certainly done the same.)
But here’s the truth: your questions, your struggle, your relationship with God are your own. Being in relationship with God calls you to relationship with others who profess the faith. It’s not a solitary endeavor. But, while you hold God in community, you are given the chance to struggle with God in a place no one else can see.
Jacob, a progenitor of the faith, struggled hard! In the end, he emerged completely changed. (Bless his heart, his hip was never the same.)
Struggle with God and watch yourself be transformed; your questions are valid and blessed. Your challenges are never beyond God’s reach. You are not meant to follow without question. Push back and see what God can do.
God, you meet us in the struggle. Help us to ask the right questions so that we can see know more fully. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.