He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.” Genesis 28:19–21
When Jacob wrestled with God, God broke his hip, and he limped for the rest of his life. In this text, the rock that Jacob used as a pillow is a symbol of the loving presence of God. As unbelievable as it might seem, a broken hip and a cold stone are God’s gifts of peace.
In this age when we wrestle with a pandemic and making sure all have access to care and vaccines, it would seem this is not the peace that we would choose. But often God gives us not what we want or what we think our lives should be. That doesn’t mean, though, that God still isn’t giving us peace.
There is a scene in “Dr. Zhivago” where an elderly Jewish couple is packed into a cattle car going to a forced labor camp in a Siberian blizzard. Cuddled together for warmth, they were surrounded by those already dead and those going to die soon. As night fell, they sweetly kissed each other. With nothing else but their love and sure death, they found solace. The kiss would not save them, yet it was sufficient. They found peace being in the presence of one another and in the presence of God. And that presence of peace was enough to sustain them on a very difficult journey.
Lord God, in this time of Lent, help us accept your gifts of divine love as yours to give — as you choose to give them — not what we insist them to be. Open our eyes to see that. May we feel your presence of peace this day. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.