Wrestling with God About the Hard Blessings


Adoption is a bruised blessing when health epidemics create orphans that could've had parents to care for them.

The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his 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 has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, 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 name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob's hip on the sinew of the thigh. (Genesis 32: 22-32, ESV)

I love this passage. I love the re-christening that's given in the struggle. And I love the reality of the hard blessing, that Jacob leaves with a new name and legacy but also with a limp.

As I've reflected on them in recent weeks, I've both loved and hated passages like the one above and the one at the end of Genesis including Genesis 50:20 ("As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.") and the ones we know well because they're quoted often: Romans 8:28 ("And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.") and 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ("But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.")

I love them because of the precious promises held for us.

I hate them because of wrestle required to reach the promise.

I want to get on a plane to Uganda so badly it hurts. I want to know that the child who will be mine won't have to wait much longer for the HIV meds needed. I want to gather the three who have suffered such loss in my arms and assure them that Mommy is here.

I want the promise. Now. 

I don't know what it will look like, but after this adoption Lee and I have resolved to join efforts with those who are working to provide testing and treatment for HIV in Africa. Why? Because the hard reality is that our Ugandan three didn't have to be orphans.

That is not okay with me.

As much as I love adoption, I love it more when first families can stay together and when mothers don't have to die before their child with HIV is tested.

This bruised blessing is now leading to life for the child with HIV. Given the present realities (that I hope will change in my lifetime), that child wouldn't have been tested otherwise. The HIV infection likely would have progressed, undetected, and the precious child we love probably wouldn't have lived to be an adult. The three blessings we're adopting were only tested for HIV because the orphanage tests each child during the entry physical.

That's the reality motivating us to become involved in some way - at least financially - in HIV detection and treatment on the other side of the world. The verses that call us to do justice for orphans mean, for me at least, joining arms with those who are fighting public health epidemics that needlessly create orphans.

As I work through how I feel about these passages, I'm wrestling with God myself. And I know I can trust Him, because I became His through the hardest blessing ever.

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. {Hebrews 10:10}

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