Daily Devotion for July 23, 2020

On the Edge...

The same night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Peniel, limping because of his hip.                                                                                                                                          (Genesis 32:22-31)

There are times in our lives when, like Jacob in this story,  we stand on the edge between everything we used to be, everything we used to know and the future of what we might become, what we might learn. We struggle and wonder, worry and pray, resist the changes and hope for new possibilities. Wrestling is hard and demanding, and it’s never fun to be caught in the middle of the wrestling. It’s exhausting. In the midst of the wrestling, it seems like it will never end and it’s hard to imagine a different and more promising future.
Oh, how we are wrestling in these days. We are on an edge between what was and what might be – and we have no idea what the future holds. Jacob in this story gives us some hints for how we might understand and interpret this on-the-edge, uncertain, chaotic time. First:  we aren’t just wrestling with life; we are wrestling God. Surprise. God is present even in the wrestling! Second: Whenever we wrestle, we are called to hold on, to keep wrestling until we discern and receive God’s blessing. Don’t let go, Jacob insists. Hold on! God has a blessing for us even in this wrestling. Third:  we won’t be the same person, or people of God, as when we started. We may end up limping or hurt. And (and this is a very important “and”), we will limp with God’s blessing – and maybe even with a new name or identity or with a new way of being in our lives and faith.
God of our wrestling and striving, we are in such a time of turmoil and struggle. Help us to hold on to your presence. Help us to be changed into new ways of being your people so we can become renewed, transformed witnesses to your healing presence, your mercy and justice, your hope and promise. Help us to hold on until we experience the blessings you are helping to create in this most difficult time, so we might become the people of your blessings in this limping and hurting world. For it is in the assurance and name of the wounded and risen Christ that we pray. Amen.

May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.