When something in the Bible bothers you

Intimacy through wrestling quote on graphic

What do you do when something you read in Scripture offends you? When a passage or verse appears to contradict your perception of God and makes you question if He truly is good?

In such situations, we tend to respond in one of three ways:

  • We ignore that portion of text, halt any thoughts pertaining to it, and quickly move on.
  • We become obsessed with it and begin re-evaluating God through one particular paragraph or narrative.
  • Or, we acknowledge our response and the bias our emotions tend to create and analyze the bothersome section through other well-founded biblical truths.

Years ago, I engaged in an ongoing email conversation with an atheist during which he posed numerous supposed problems with Scripture. And while I knew he was trying to trip me up and weaken my faith, I continued the dialogue hoping God would use it in some way to soften the man’s heart.

At one point, he asked me how I could believe in a God who subjugated women. Granted, Scripture demonstrates, from the time of Sarah to Prisicilla and beyond, God’s heart toward all humanity, females included. But I recognized the man’s statement pointed to a bigger issue–his criteria upon which he established his world view. And so, I replied, “I don’t determine truth based on how I feel or my personal preference or comfort level.”

quote on bias and truth

Because, frankly, there are certain sections of Scripture that I strongly dislike. Portions, if it were up to me, that I’d rewrite or delete. I imagine the biblical authors and countless scholars and translators over the years have felt the same, which is why the less palatable portions of Scripture validate its authority.

I reflected upon this past conversation and various “unpleasant” passages I’ve encountered over the years as I read through the first chapter of Malachi. Verses two-three states, written to the nation of Israel, “‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. ‘but you ask, “How have You loved us?” ‘Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ declares the Lord. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals'” (NIV).

An apparently contradictory text, right? How can a God Scripture reveals as the perfect embodiment of love, in one statement, proclaim His love for one man while stating his hatred of another?

At this point, I could share the articles and commentaries expounding on these verses, but I’d rather discuss this from a broader and more crucial perspective–how we process truth.

You and I are prone to make ourselves god. To filter everything through our emotions and the bias they create. The problem is, when that’s the basis from which we approach Scripture, we are inherently beginning with personal bias. Therefore, we’ve already erected inner barriers to truth.

Personally, I don’t believe ignoring our discomfort benefits us, either. There’s something profoundly spiritual that occurs when we wrestle with God over a particular text. I once heard this fitting analogy: “Two people are never closer than when they are wrestling.”

In my recent podcast interview with Dr. Allender and Cathy Loerzel, he referred to wrestling as worship. I’m prone to agree with him. I believe God is honored when we engage Him honestly, even if that engagement is wrought with inner angst. Because He can handle our questions and doubts. He’s fully aware of our disquieted soul, more than we are in fact. And He meets us there. He meets us in our uncertainty, our frustrations and turmoil.

Wrestling with God quote on graphic

Although we may not receive the answers we crave, we’ll receive something far more valuable; a treasure of infinite worth: a soul-deep encounter with our Creator.

And so, we acknowledge unease and areas of disbelieve, laying both, unveiled, at the feet of our Father. Asking for His perspective, knowing ours is flawed.

Yet, we do this holding tight to truth, reiterated through Scripture, gloriously displayed on the cross, and reaffirmed countless ways throughout our lifetime. We know that God is love. A love so deep, so merciful and unrelenting, our Creator pursued and rescued those who rebelled against Him again and again when He could’ve easily turned away, or annihilated humanity completely. A love that formulated the most excruciating yet necessary plan for redemption, prior to breathing life into mortal flesh.

A love that preserved a text so raw, so honest, generation after generation and century after century, so that you and I might discover God’s heart and character illustrated within.

There are portions of Scripture, as I’ve said, that bother me deeply. Sections for which, after years of study, I still lack answers. But while I investigate and question and wrestle with the text and the God it points to, I do so knowing that He truly is good and loving and kind.

That, not my feelings and flawed human logic, is the filter through which I read.

Let’s talk about this. When has God used a period of doubt, of wrestling with Him, to bring a deeper revelation and experience with Him? How do you handle those nagging questions that seem to lack satisfactory answers? Share your thoughts in the comments below or engage with me on Facebook.

Before you go, make sure to check out my interview below with Dr. Allender and Cathy Loerzel, co-authors of Redeeming Heartache. And watch out for a deeper discussion on Malachi 1:2-3 in an upcoming Your Daily Bible Verse episode.

God’s Promise to Place The Lonely in Families – Ep. 104 Faith Over Fear

Sadly, we live in an increasingly disconnected culture where many people are forced to endure the pain of loneliness. Others, perhaps having felt isolated in the past, have developed a strong fear of loneliness. Still others, due to previous wounds, have come to expect rejection and, out of fear of future hurt, remain in emotional hiding. If any of these scenarios resonate with you, be encouraged: God planted the need for connection deep within the human heart, which means He doesn’t want us to live disconnected and He invites us to trust Him to lead us to those with whom we can feel seen, known, and loved. Find the Ephesians Bible Reading plan at:https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/25255Find Wholly Loved at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comFind out about Wholly Loved’s small groups at:https://whollyloved.com/resources/online-studies/Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Group Discussion Questions:1. When have you felt unknown and unseen? 2. Consider your typical interactions. Do you tend to feel rejected or accepted? If you feel rejected, how have past hurts impacted this, if at all?3. When have you felt seen and known? 4. How does it feel to know that God cares about your relationships and doesn’t want you to feel alone? 5. If you struggle with loneliness, are there places you can go or clubs you can join in order to build connections? If so, where?6. How would you describe the health of your faith community?7. If you cannot go to people, how can you use technology in order to connect with others? 8. What are some truths you can remind yourself of the next time you feel unvalued and unseen?
  1. God’s Promise to Place The Lonely in Families – Ep. 104
  2. Trusting God’s Promise to Give Us Abundant Life – Ep. 103
  3. Trusting God’s Promise to Give Our Lives Purpose – Ep. 102
  4. Trusting God's Presence to Guide Us – Ep. 101
  5. Trusting God’s Promise to Remain Present – Ep. 100

And, for those who live in or near the Omaha Metro, save the date! We’d love to see you at our upcoming gala. It’s going to be a hilariously fun and inspiring night of celebrating the God who sets hearts free.

Find out more HERE.

And if you haven’t already done so, make sure to grab a copy of my latest release, Her Small Town Refuge. 🙂

To secure the future she’s been wishing for,

cover image

she must earn her boss’s trust.

Escaping to the Texas Hill Country with her daughter for a vet tech internship is Stephanie Thornton’s chance at a safer life. But when medicine goes missing from Caden Stoughton’s struggling vet clinic, all evidence points to Stephanie. With the new life she’s been searching for hanging in the balance, Stephanie must convince Caden to trust her with his business…and his heart.

From Love Inspired: Uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness and hope.

Find it on Amazon.

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