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Wrestling with God until the dawn of blessing

Light for the Way seriesWe invite you to take a peek inside our weekly Light for the Way devotional series provided for staff.

By Chaplain Jenny Schroedel, Optage Hospice
"So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he answered. Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.’ Jacob said, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he replied, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ Then he blessed him there.” — Genesis 32:24-29, NIV
What a lot of wrestling this year has brought: masks, goggles, expectations, uncertainty, loss. Just as Jacob wrestled all through the night, we have come through a long year into the present moment.
In this story, it is not Jacob who is weary from the nighttime battle but his sparring partner who realizes that he cannot overpower Jacob. He then wrenches Jacob’s hip (ouch!) so that he will likely limp for the rest of his life. Going forward, Jacob will never be the same.
We are also changed by our experiences, and that is okay. Although our culture encourages moving on, letting go and looking away from hard questions, we can take the time to be with it all.
How has this year changed you?
How might you walk differently going forward?
What kind of blessing might be hidden in the struggle?

After that long restless night, Jacob was given a new name. He was called ‘Israel’ because, as the text explains, he struggled with God and humans and he overcame. His new name represented a deep change rooted in perseverance. Like Jacob, we have experienced changes we could not have imagined. We have grown and persevered and we have become something new. Like Jacob, we can be bold, holding on through the night until the blessing comes.

Optage Hospice Chaplain Jenny Schroedel facilitates grief groups across PHS sites and in the larger community. She lived in Hawaii for a decade, before returning home to Minnesota. In Hawaii she worked as Director of Bereavement Services and helped found Hospice of Kona’s Maluihi Grief Center. Jenny is also an author, most recently of Naming The Child: Hope-filled Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death

The Light for the Way series provides staff with an examination of a biblical reading to deepen our focus on scripture. Thank you for engaging with this series as we seek wisdom through prayer and reflection as a Christian Ministry.

Find more in the Light for the Way series:
Through scars and stories: my return journey to faith
Be still. Know God.
Introducing Light for the Way, a new devotional series

In addition to Light for the Way, you can find reflections, devotions, music and other resources on the Pastoral Care website

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