Struggle and blessing

July 25, 2011

For more commentary on this week's readings, see the Reflections on the Lectionary page, which
includes Monroe's current Living by the Word column as well as past magazine
and blog content. For full-text access to all articles, subscribe to the

Recently, I learned that a young couple I know had filed for
divorce after 18 months of marriage. By my calculations, they spent more time
planning the wedding than being married. Like many newlyweds, Lauren and Jeff
hit some snags around finances. In the end, they decided it was easier to split
up than to hold on and work through a solution. When asked if there was a
chance of reconciliation, Lauren said, "I'm tired of struggling. I just give
up." Yet they'd only struggled for 18 months!

When I was a newlywed, I met a couple who were celebrating
their 70th wedding anniversary. Someone asked them what the secret
was to staying happily married for 70 years, and the wife said, "Well, it
wasn't all happy. There were some bad years." It was the phrase "bad years"
that caught my attention. After a bad week, I would start to worry that my
marriage to Neil was on the rocks. How did you get through bad years?

The lesson this week's passage from Genesis offers is the
power of just holding on. Don't let go--there is surely a blessing in your

There's also the issue of the limp. I don't think there is
such a thing as an unencumbered blessing. Every blessing from God comes at a
price--something you give up, something you must endure, something you must do.
The trick is to embrace the blessing and the cost as gifts from God.

When my son was six years old, we visited friends who had an
indoor pool. We let Walter swim in his underwear, even though it meant the ride
home was damp and uncomfortable. That night when saying his prayers he said,
"Thank you God for the wet underwear and the pool that made them wet." I'll bet
that's how Jacob felt about that limp.


Nice commentary

I included a link to this commentary to my notes on the lectionary at:

I heard John Dominic Crossan speak today in Highlands, NC. He alluded to this same reading. His basic premise was that Christians need to wrestle more with God and with the scriptures, and come away limping more frequently. I think he’s right, that much of what we do is superficial and not life altering

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