Daily Devotion – April 1, 2020 – Pastor Brian Hansen

Genesis 32:2-31

Jacob Wrestles at Peniel

24 Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 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. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” 27 So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 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.” 29 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. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

I’ve often described Jacob as one of the biggest scoundrels in all of scripture. Rather than helping his brother Esau in a time of need, he leverages his birth rite from him and he later steals his blessing. Jacob then flees to his mother’s homeland where he burns bridges with his uncle and cousins and eventually is left with no place to go. Haunted by his past and fearful of the future, Jacob wrestles all night long. He wrestles with who he is, who he has become and who he wants to be. He wrestles for a new identity and a new heart. Finally, after wrestling with perhaps both his conscience and with God he leaves changed. Never again will Jacob walk the same.

We most certainly are facing a time where we are learning how to walk differently. Perhaps each of us is learning to live into a new identity, a new way of living and being in this world entrusted to our care. Perhaps for some of us learning to live in a new way is challenging and painful. Perhaps for others this time of social distancing and doing things differently is providing us with an opportunity to take stock of the abundant blessings all around us and to provide us with an opportunity to consider how we can live going forward in new and thankful ways.

At times we all crave new beginnings. We all want a fresh start, a second chance, an opportunity to see and live in the world in a new and different way. The story of Jacob, renamed here Israel, is ultimately the story of the God who meets us in our brokenness and transforms our futures by giving us a new identity in Christ.

Prayer: God of new beginnings, grant us hope for today and grace to live into our identity in you. May our lives reflect your love for us today and all the days of our lives. For we pray in the one who claims us in love and who sends us forth to forever walk differently in the world around us. AMEN