This past Sunday I shared with you some reflections based on the story of Jacob wrestling with a stranger in the night before he was reconciled with his brother Esau (Genesis 32:22-31). The sermon was titled Restless Nights. As we approach the 5 month mark of our “shut down” due to COVID 19, we all are having some restless nights, wrestling with anxieties and fears about the future, wresting with unresolved issues of the past. So I thought I would share some excerpts here again from my sermon, for your continued reflection:
We know what it is to have a restless night like Jacob had. We all face an uncertain tomorrow – forever changed by this global pandemic, forever changed by social upheaval and justice deferred, forever changed by our violence toward one another, forever changed by our destruction of God’s Creation. So it is no wonder we have restless nights filled with anguish and struggle, just like Jacob.
Like Jacob, we struggle with so much grief and loss – especially in the long night of this global COVID pandemic, we struggle with the loss of the world as we have always known it, and the loss of the future we expected to live but is now gone forever.
But as it did for Jacob, the dawn of our new day inevitably approaches, and, one way or another, our struggling must be resolved. As much as we want to be free of the struggle, though, it is not easy to let go of that which holds us down, unless we are assured of a blessing, some good outcome or satisfactory conclusion. Jacob would not release the stranger unless he received a blessing, but the blessing he received was not perhaps what he had in mind. The stranger blessed Jacob with a new identity, a new name, a life change. But such transformation did not come without some cost to Jacob. Forever after he would carry the scars of that struggle, both emotionally and physically. A new life is not granted without some cost to the one who receives it.
There is no going back to the world we once knew, for it no longer exists. We will never be the same as we were yesterday, before the night. And we walk into this new day, this new world, this future, bearing the marks of transformation, the scars of human struggle, the pain of the human condition.
There are no guarantees about what the day ahead will hold. But whatever the day ahead brings, we can walk into the future with hope, because we are God’s People, and God has promised: “I will not leave you; I will bring you home.”
The restless nights will pass, and joy comes with the morning.