“The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.” Genesis 32:31 (NIV)
“Take another step,” I told myself, as my body countered with pain.
Everything in me wanted to stop, turn around and quit, but my little family of four had gone too far to turn back. After hiking up a 3,000-foot mountain the day before, we now found ourselves trekking into a 1,000-foot canyon with stunning river and waterfall views.
Despite the fact that I was aching everywhere, we continued to inch down to the bottom in hopes of getting a closer look at the rushing waters. On all sides, we were surrounded by canyon walls, towering trees and audacious wildflowers.
It was breathtaking, but I was distracted by my pain.
Sore muscles, gasps for air and fatigue all competed for my attention, and nearly won. God’s spectacular creation was up close and personal, and all I could think about was when it would be over. The more I thought about my inability to fully enjoy my surroundings, the more I realized I had been in this place before.
Pain had clouded my perspective on more than one occasion and prevented me from seeing obvious glimpses of God.
Exhaustion with raising my kids, disappointment in failure, overwhelm in hardship and sickness of a loved one have all made it difficult to see God’s goodness at times. I think Jacob may have experienced something similar after wrestling all night, as recorded in the book of Genesis.
Scripture tells us that Jacob wrestled a man until daybreak. We do not know if this man was an angel or God Himself, but we do know His strength was superior to Jacob’s. During the course of their battle, the man touched the socket of Jacob’s hip and dislocated it as they fought.
In the middle of this life-changing battle, Jacob was debilitated in a matter of seconds. Though pain may have shot through his body, Jacob refused to let go of the man until receiving a blessing.
In response, the man gave him a new name: Israel. Jacob went from being known as a deceiver to one who struggled with God. Jacob’s new name would be that of God’s chosen people.
Jacob was blessed, had been given a new name, was heir to Abraham’s promise and yet he also now had a limp. Genesis 32:31 says, “The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.”
The name change was a demonstration of God’s promise-keeping goodness at work, but I am convinced that God’s goodness can also be seen in Jacob’s dislocated hip. Since we do not know if Jacob’s hip ever healed, it is probable that Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his days.
Every day, Jacob had a vivid reminder of his weakness in comparison to God’s supernatural strength. Daily, he would be encouraged to rely not on his deceptive tendencies but rather on his almighty God. This too was a display of God’s goodness.
Just as the goodness of God can be seen in Jacob’s difficult circumstance, it can also be seen in mine. I saw God’s blessings in the amazement of my children once we finally made it to the bottom of that canyon. I witnessed His sovereignty as I took in His creation. I experienced His grace as we made our way back out of that canyon.
Though difficult to see, God’s goodness is present in our most challenging life experiences.
It may seem as if God is not present at all when we face difficulties, but God is always present. He has a perfect plan for the things we deem good, but also for what we perceive as difficult. When we choose to adjust our perspectives, we can see His goodness, even in life’s difficult circumstances.
Dear God, thank You that Your goodness is evident in my difficult circumstances. Please show me Your goodness where I cannot see it in my life. Help me to trust and believe that Your ways are always good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
2 Corinthians 12:7b, “… Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” (NIV)
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For more encouragement on this topic, you might enjoy this post on Kia Stephens’ blog: “Where Hard Things and Faith Intersect.”
Join Kia on her YouTube Channel as she delves deeper into the topic of seeing God’s goodness in the midst of difficult circumstances.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
What difficult circumstance are you presently facing? Where in this circumstance do you see the goodness of God? How might the Holy Spirit be leading you to adjust your perspective?
We’d love to connect with you in the comments today and hear your thoughts on this topic.
© 2020 by Kia Stephens. All rights reserved.
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