January 7, 2020
Perry Engle – Bishop, Midwest and Pacific Conferences
Bible meditation: Genesis 32:22-32
Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. … So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” Genesis 32:24, 30
There are those times, deep in the night, when the day is stripped away and the weight of life and the choices you’ve made hang heavy around you. When everything seems out of control, and fear and regret creep into your dreams, and you long for God’s blessing in spite of your disobedience and pride.
It’s then we struggle with God like some modern-day Jacob. We are forced into a face-to-face encounter with our Creator, wrestling with him until the morning brings clarity, resolve, and surrender.
In Genesis 32, we find Jacob overwhelmed by his impending reunion with Esau, his estranged older brother. The passage describes Jacob’s strange hand-to-hand combat with one characterized as a man (Gen. 32:24), an angel, and God himself (Hosea 12:4). Jacob — renamed Israel here (meaning he struggles with God) — refuses to give in until God has granted him his blessing (Gen. 32:26-28).
Jacob fights throughout the night, with God throwing Jacob’s hip out of joint as a permanent reminder of who is ultimately in charge. By daybreak, Jacob has endured the struggle but has certainly not defeated his Lord. He calls the place Peniel, meaning face of God, because he has “seen God face to face” and has been blessed in the process (Gen. 32:30).
We each need to come to our own Peniel. That point where our wrestling against God becomes the place where we see him for who he is and are transformed by the encounter. Where our striving becomes surrender, and our brokenness melts into blessing.
It is at Peniel where God gives us a new name, and we become the “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17) God has always intended us to be.
Father, I long to see you face to face. I submit my will to your larger plan for my life and ask you to bless me, so I might always be a blessing to others.