August 3, 2014
Matthew 14:13-21
Romans 9:1-5
Genesis 32:22-31
Psalm 17:1-7, 15

Wrestling With Hope
Proper 13 | OT 18

Full installment posted Tuesday afternoon.

Chris Keating

In this week’s lectionary text from Genesis, a tenacious Jacob is tested by an all-night wrestling match that leaves him drained and hurting. President Obama might well feel the same, as he wrestles with how to respond to a convergence of interlocking foreign policy crises in which “the crosscurrents can be dizzying.” While Obama and his foreign policy team knew what they were potentially signing up for when they sought their jobs, team member Chris Keating points out in the next installment of The Immediate Word that those of us who follow developments through the media can feel overwhelmed by the staggering level of violence and rage around the world. It’s enough to make us want to disengage from the world and its endless parade of bad news and suffering, and to search for a respite in the form of a pleasant escape. But as Chris reminds us, such measures are merely temporary and leave us searching for a lasting hope that can sustain us. He notes that this week’s passages offer a glimpse of God’s presence at work -- and he suggests that the feeding of the 5,000 with a few loaves and two fish shows us a model for finding the hope we need in the midst of a frightening world. Here’s a preview:

Wrestling With Hope
by Chris Keating
Genesis 32:22-31; Matthew 14:13-21

Cascading world crises have been popping up faster than a kid’s Whac-A-Mole game lately, filling newsfeeds with unnerving headlines and television broadcasts with dire reports. It’s been an ugly midsummer’s news cycle, filled with human tragedy and unceasing violence.

We’re seeing world conflict in all of its broadband glory. Cable news channels offer reports of the withering and bloody attacks in Gaza, where there is little hope for a permanent ceasefire after the breakdown of a temporary truce. Across the internet there are analyses of the investigation into the downed Malaysian Airline Flight 17, including photos of the remains of some of the Dutch victims being returned home. Meanwhile, headline news provides ongoing reports of fighting in Syria, a suicide bomber in Libya, and the fleeing of Christians from Mosul.

As a friend wrote on my Facebook page recently, “Show me the hope.”

Leaders grappling with the nonstop events might see themselves wrestling like Jacob at the Jabbok in Genesis 32. It is a tough struggle against fierce opponents. As the New York Times noted, “rarely has a president been confronted with so many seemingly disparate foreign policy crises all at once.”

Pick a country. Name a continent. The stories last week were grim, detailing wrestling matches that have exploded across the world at a frenetic pace. Jacob pushed against God, demanding to know with whom he was wrestling. This summer, the world seems to be doing something similar. And like Jacob, we yearn for the blessing which will make us whole.

When you wrestle unseen opponents, it’s hard to find hope. Yet both the Old Testament and New Testament lessons offer reminders of God’s incarnational presence -- and that alone may save us.

>> Full installment posted Tuesday afternoon.

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Immediate Word Team
(Click on photo
  for author's bio.)

George Reed

Mary Austin

Ronald H. Love

Dean Feldmeyer

Leah Lonsbury

Chris Keating