Sleepless in Peniel

How are you sleeping? Are you getting enough rest? Or are your anxiety dreams so loud you can’t relax in your sleep?

This is a constant topic of conversation among my friends and family. Just a few days ago a friend described a dream where a dog was loose on her property and injured a neighbor, who then threatened to sue her. That same night my husband dreamt that a friend came over and when he went to leave, the lawn was filled with alligators. What the heck?

I don’t always remember my dreams, but several times a week I wake up exhausted from them. I hope and pray for all of us that when the pandemic is over, our sleep will be more restful.

Today we join Jacob at the brook of Jabbok. He is moving his family in accordance with God’s instruction to go back to the land of Canaan and rejoin his father Isaac. Things have deteriorated with his father-in-law Laban and it is time to skedaddle.

Genesis 32 (The Message)

22-23 But during the night he got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants, and his eleven children and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He got them safely across the brook along with all his possessions.

24-25 But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.

Sleepless nights can feel like wrestling matches. Indeed, it is often in the dark of the night that God comes to us to help us process things. Stress, anxiety, guilt, indecision, anger…our subconscious continues to deal with our waking issues even when we are dead asleep.

26 The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.”

Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.”

27 The man said, “What’s your name?”

He answered, “Jacob.”

28 The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”

Here is the good news. God always works things out for our good. All of the times when we are wrestling with which way to go will work out in the end if we remain true to God‘s direction…even when that place is far away from our comfort zone.

29 Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?”

The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him.

30 Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!”

Are you wrestling with something right now? Are your nights fraught with tossing and turning? Are you running toward God in your dreams, or away from him?

Jacob was blessed by God because he was OBEDIENT. He trusted God enough to pack up his entire family and move far away. He followed God’s direction at the expense of everybody’s comfort. And when God visited him for one last test of resolve, Jacob held on until the morning. And he lived to tell the story.

So stay the course. Hold on to God through the night, and when the sun comes up, you will see his blessing unfold.

The Day Breaks by Wende Pritchard

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