I recently watched a movie that came out several years ago starring Christian Bale as Moses. The movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings, is pretty good as a movie. Not always biblically sound, but there is an underlying truth there. Many of the elements of the Exodus story are included with a heavy dose of “poetic license” to make it more cinematic, I’ll assume.

There was one moment in the film that made me stop and think and then a second scene came back to me after the movie had ended that brought me back to that former moment. That, to me, is the sign of a good movie. If you are contemplating it afterwards, trying to make sense of things, it’s got some depth to it. And some artistry.

So the moment is when Ramses says that Israel means “one who fights with God.” Moses, though, corrects him and says, “one who struggles with God” is the proper translation. It could be that we are meant to see that Moses is not intimidated by his much more powerful friend (foreshadowing of their interactions later when Moses demands that Pharaoh let his people go). Or it could be foreshadowing, to emphasize that Moses knows what Israel means and he finds that name, and those people, intriguing.

I am inclined to go with this latter interpretation as, once Moses has his encounter with the burning bush, every time he meets with God’s Messenger for the rest of the film, Moses is constantly questioning and even challenging, what God is doing. He personifies the very name of Israel. He struggles with God’s actions consistently and passionately.

I like that portrayal of Moses in this film, despite any objections I might have with the way the director and writer present this well known biblical story to the audience. I’ve said more than once that it is okay to ask God “why” when we don’t understand. It is perfectly acceptable to struggle with occurrences in your life or the lives of others and to challenge God on those things.

I often tell people, and I tell you here, to look to the psalms for multiple instances when the psalmist asks God why things are happening. Or asks God “how long” must I suffer or endure something. There is lamentation, but there is also authentic frustration and even anger at the situation the psalmist finds himself in, and he asks God to explain Himself.

These psalms must be included in the Bible as exemplars of how we get to interact with God, how we can encounter Him. Don’t worry about seeming to be unfaithful, or brazen in your questioning. God can take it, believe me.

Even Jesus struggles with His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane when He begs the Lord, 3 times, to take away this cup. He ultimately says, “Not my will be done, but Yours.” And that’s as it should be. Do we believe that God can bring good from the most horrible situations?

It’s important to recognize, though, that the relationship with God has got to be an intimate one, a continual conversation. You can’t just be mad at God all the time. There first must be love there. And love is only in a relationship through communication and time spent together. So, we must work on that first, so we can get to the struggle, and get through the struggle with our relationship intact. (One of my issues with the film: Moses does not seem to really love God until the end. At least he gets there!)

Note too, that almost all the psalms include at least a note of praise to our God. The Creator of the Universe deserves the praise of all His creatures (this means you and me!).

You develop trust in a loving relationship, too. Remember that. You’ve got to spend time talking with God (that’s prayer), and while He is a Friend, He is also God and I am not. So we must always remember that we will never understand His ways fully in this mortal life. Just as we won’t understand the bad things, we equally cannot fathom His love for us, or His mercy. Just know they are unending.

God allows many things that seem too horrific for us to understand. And we ask why a merciful God would do so. But the emphasis here is on the merciful. We need to know that; everything and everyone are in God’s hands. No matter how dark the night or the valley. He sees us. He suffers with us. He cries with us. He rejoices with us. He loves us. He wants us with Him in eternity.

Do not despair. And go ahead and struggle. “Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” I don’t know who said that, but I love it.

Everything will be alright…

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