Jacob Wrestles at Peniel
The same night he 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, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.
Feeding the Five Thousand1
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
What does it take for a miracle to take place?
1 small seed of faith
Grind the seed of faith underneath the need and mix with gratitude.
Bake in high heat with patience.
As the miracle begins to rise, pour more gratitude over it.
A friend of mine once told me that anytime we have recipes for spiritual or miraculous results, we have left true Christian faith and have begun to delve into magic, witchcraft, and paganism. Why? Because they are based on works instead of based on grace. They depend on our power instead of depending on God’s power. In short, there are no recipes for miracles. Sometimes I wish there were, until I remember that God usually knows better than me and my wishes.Sure, we can throw in scripture references to try to baptize it, but getting something wet does not change what it is. Only God can do that. And God does not wait for us to baptize people before He gets to work and working miracles in their lives.
I don’t just believe in miracles, I’ve experienced them. Healing. Miraculous provision. When you prepare meals at church and have no idea whether 10 or 100 people will show up, some miraculous stuff usually happens. Help from the least likely and most unexpected places. Like when our unchurched neighbors show that they’ve been looking out for our church. Yes, most of them are small, but I’ve also seen people come back from the brink of death and go home from the hospital as the doctors just stand there and shake their heads confused. Miracles do happen, we just can’t make them happen on our own.
More often then not though, we are called to take part in that miracle. Sometimes it is hard, grueling work, and we feel, like Jacob, that we are just wrestling God, waiting for Him to make His move. Other times, we don’t even realize we are doing much, like the disciples who offered up their lunch to help feed the crowd. Or perhaps, we are focused on organizing and passing out food that we don’t even realize how much we have done until the end.
God is the cook, and we are the small seeds of faith He uses, pouring out His Holy Spirit upon us as we are ground up, stirred around, and finally rise up in the heat of conflict… all the while, surrounded by a mountain of need. God’s gift of the Holy Spirit comes out of love and gratitude for our love and obedience to Him. It’s not a payment, it is an incentive that comes before our obedience, leading us closer to Him. You see, something prompted the disciples to offer up that food to Jesus, to believe He could put it to use. They gave their all and Jesus made it make do.
What are you offering up to Jesus today?
- (Mk 6:30–44; Lk 9:10–17; Jn 6:1–14) ↩