Wrestling with (alongside) or wrestling against – Norma’s reflection from Sunday’s service.

Reflection for 28th February 2021

One of the joys of lockdown for me has been the fact that we as Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains opted to connect with one another at least once every 4-6 weeks to share our stories, to offer support and care to one another and to reflect together on topics which were important to us.  We had one such meeting on Thursday of last week and it really helped me when I was thinking about what to say today.

One of my colleagues, originally from America, was sharing how he was wrestling to cope not only with work, stress and tiredness but also with issues of faith.  He talked about wrestling during his school and college years, not the WWE type stuff, but proper wrestling which is very much a part of sport in the USA.  He said he was rubbish at running and his hand eye co-ordination was rubbish but he found he was quite good at wrestling and enjoyed it.  While we were talking I asked the question which had immediately come to my mind which was are we wrestling with (alongside) God or are we wrestling with (against) God.  An important distinction we agreed.

For me this was represented in the readings set down for today – in the Old Testament reading I see Abraham as wrestling alongside God, he accepts what God is telling him but he wrestles with the actual facts.  He is amazed that God says he and Sarah, who are both well on in years, will father a nation but he doesn’t question it, just the how.  In the Gospel however Peter wrestles against God, he doesn’t want to hear what God is saying, he has just recognised Jesus as his Lord and Messiah and he cannot accept that he is going to die.  He questions what is being said not how it will happen.  Often we are like that – struggling to accept what God says with what is happening, we don’t want things to be the way they are and we argue with God about it.  However when we begin to just accept we can often find peace and comfort in God’s presence and hope for the future no matter how rough the journey.

My colleague also expressed how for him thinking about how much training was required for each 6 minute bout of wrestling helped him to reframe his thinking about how we tackle things.  He said we often say we are trying, trying to change things, trying to be better at things, trying to make the world a better place – but actually saying we are trying often sets us up to fail.  Instead he had reframed his thoughts to say he was in training to change things, training to be better and to make the world a better place.  With training he said we are on a journey, continually, always training to improve.  Our journeys are particularly hard at the moment, but it is all good training for life.  Let’s keep training and let’s wrestling alongside God to make this world a better place for all of us, through loving, compassionate care.

Remember as Winnie the Pooh says: “Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved.” May your life this week be a wonderful experience of listening to God and walking with him, not wrestling with him.

Norma

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