October 10, 2022: Against All Odds

Reading: Genesis 32:22-31

The same night [Jacob] got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.


If ever there was a case of success against all odds, Jacob is it. He’s a crafty soul willing to do whatever it takes to come out on top (like, say, cheating his brother Esau out of his birthright). And, when his back is up against the wall, somehow Jacob always manages to find a way to break free. Even as Jacob sits on the banks of the Jabbok, awaiting what he anticipates will be a tense meeting with his estranged brother, and even as he is confronted by a mysterious other-worldly stranger who engages Jacob in a wrestling match, Jacob still manages to eke out a blessing from it all. Against all odds, Jacob almost wins this battle, and manages to come out relatively unscathed (sore hip, notwithstanding). Flawed and broken though Jacob may be, God knows that he’s capable of amazing things, in spite of himself. And so it is with all who are brazen and bold enough to believe in a God who makes and keeps promises. God knows that, against all odds and despite our brokenness, we are capable of amazing and awesome things in the name of the One who creates, saves, and calls us each by name.

–Lisa Raylene Barnes



Gracious and Holy One, against all odds, you love us beyond all measure, and inspire us to awesomeness in your name. Guide us to make sounds decisions, live fully in the gospel, and recognize your presence among us.