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« Guilty pleasures | Main | Of health and hubris »

Wounded and blessed

Like most of the towering heroes in the Bible stories, Jacob was not what we would call a decent person. A cheat and a coward, he nevertheless had two of the most powerful spiritual encounters described in the scriptures. There was the ladder reaching from his runaway resting place to heaven with angels coming and going – surely a metaphor for divine traffic linking us to God in the direst of circumstances. And then there was the all-night fight with a mysterious stranger – maybe his conscience, maybe an angel, maybe God.

In the story, Jacob, coming back to face the music in the shape of his wronged brother Esau, wrestles all night with an unbeatable foe. Towards dawn, both wrestlers are exhausted, and Jacob’s assailant strikes him in the hip, throwing it out of joint, and asks Jacob to let him go. Jacob refuses to relent until the stranger blesses him, which he does, giving him the new name of Israel, but refusing to reveal his own name. According to the account in Genesis, Jacob thought his assailant was God. A God who, as in Moses’ later encounter at the burning bush, refused to be limited to a label.

Jacob continues into his spectacular story, with a new wound, a blessing and a new name.

This weird and wonderful story resonates powerfully with me. This last year our family has struggled with some new challenges, including dealing with incurable cancer and its treatment. While we are profoundly grateful for this treatment, is a brutal thing to witness, let alone experience. It feels as though we have been wrestling, all year, with forces that haven’t defeated us yet, but nor will they let us go. We’ve not given up, but we are exhausted.

Hearing my husband - the one who has been so very sick - preach on Jacob recently was poignant as I drew parallels with this story from the dawn of time and our own current experience. Like Jacob, we have been struggling through a time that has sometimes seemed like an endless night. Like him, we walk away wounded. We will never be quite the same again – we have lost any blithe assumptions we ever had that life would all turn out well. I have seen my previously indestructible husband completely helpless and staring death in the face. At the same time, we walk away blessed, profoundly so. We are freshly aware of love and grace, both human and divine. We are closer to, more appreciative of, and gentler with each other. The simplest joys in life are sweeter than ever before, friendships more cherished.

All I know, through our experiences this year, is that life takes you on, and you are never quite the same again. But if you let them, the wounds with which you limp into the rest of your life can by God’s grace, be a blessing and the start of a deeper connection with Jesus, the wounded healer.

This was published in the October edition of The Melbourne Anglican


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Reader Comments (7)

Thank you Clare. We too continue to struggle with our own seemingly endless night through the impact of one son's complex mental illnesses on all our lives. We often feel wounded and always feel grateful and blessed to be so well resourced to face the challenges together with the support of our beautiful compassionate sons and their partners and of course numerous friends and family. As we face another crisis we are especially conscious of God's grace through which we hope further healing may emerge. Saide

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSaide Cameron

Oh wow Clare, how powerful and insightful

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSally Manuell

Thank you dear Clare

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Perrin

As always, just beautiful! Thank you

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJay Robinson

Your words go deep Clare I know a little of what you shared Thankyou

October 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArthur Poole

Oh my sister, how clearly you see and how beautifully you put it. Sending you and Al lots of love and as always sending prayers up with your names all over them.

October 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJana Childers

Again I honour your gift Clare. Particularly that gift of being able to express the deepest truths of Christian faith in such homely ways. The truth as experienced is always more convincing and nourishing than when expressed onky intellectually. Thank you giving your readers this gift so generously.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRod

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