I was listening to a John Piper message on Hebrews 12, titled "The Painful Discipline of Our Heavenly Father," and appreciated this introduction, so I’m sharing it with you. I really enjoy John’s messages, and highly recommend that you download them, and put on an iPod or listen to in the car and on planes, or as you do housework or tinker in the garage. John’s life and ministry, and his insights and passion for God, have been a gift to me and many others. Download any of John’s hundreds of messages from www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByTitle/
You can read or listen to John's entire sermon on the Desiring God website.
There is a restful side to the Christian life and a wrestling side to the Christian life. "Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest," Jesus said in Matthew 11:28. "Be anxious for nothing . . . let your requests be made known to God . . . and the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). There is rest and peace in the Christian soul.
But there is also wrestling and struggle. Jesus said in Luke 13:24, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." And the word "strive" is agonizo—to wrestle and struggle. At the end of his life, Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith." Keeping the faith is a fight to be fought and a race to be run.
These two sides are not related in such a way that you rest one day and wrestle the next. They are interwoven in two ways. 1) First, the main aim of our wrestling is to rest - in God and not in money or position or looks or achievement; the aim of our wrestling is to rest in the promises of God and not the promises of sin. 2) Second, all our wrestling and fighting and running are done with a deep restfulness of spirit that Christ himself has already won the decisive victory for us and is sovereignly working in us and will bring us to glory.