First Congregational Church Winter Park
Daily Meditation: "Solitary Struggle"
Saturday, August 29, 2020
“Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. … So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’” - Genesis 32:24, 30
In these pandemic days, we have been revisiting movie series after dinner and watching them in chronological order: “Star Wars” (including “Rogue One” and “Solo”) The Marvel movies (all 23 of them and we all agree that “Thor: Ragnarok” is our favorite) and of course “The Hobbit” and “The Lord Of The Rings” extended editions (the better part of 20 hours). We’re hardcore in the Garvey Home when it comes to our movies. Our popcorn budget is extensive.
One thing that is similar throughout all of these movies, especially my beloved “Lord Of The Rings,” is that while there are wonderful bonds of fellowship and teams of people helping each other get through some tough spots, ultimately what fulfills the arc of each character’s story is a moment and an event they must face alone: Luke faces his father apart from Han and Leia, Rey faces Palpatine by herself (OK, with the presence of all the prior Jedi with her, but you know what I mean), Ironman is the only one that can snap his fingers and put the universe right again, and Frodo is the only one who can wrestle Gollum and destroy the One Ring.
Our faith journey, while filled with many wonderful people who journey with us along our way, is much like these moments in these movies. Our moments of struggle and epiphany are distinctly and solely our own. Jacob, we are told, was left alone and wrestled with God all night long. He had no help, and God kept at it until daybreak.
The other truth of the characters in these movies, as is true with Jacob, is that after their moments of solitary struggle they are never the same. Jacob is changed (and so is his hip), Luke goes on to have quite a story of his own, Ironman (spoiler alert) sacrifices himself for the one chance to save the universe, and Frodo, much like a soldier returning from the trauma of war, is never the same and can never settle back into the life he once had that he fought so hard to protect. Ultimately, though, the transformation of these characters brings about a happy ending and the story ends with hope for the future.
In our moments of solitary struggle as we grow in our faith, remember that. Our happy ending is waiting, too. Struggle on,wrestle through the night, battle the Dark Side, gather your Infinity Stones and snap your fingers, and have the strength to travel to Mordor and throw the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom. See what happens next.
Thank you, God, for challenging us to wrestle with you through the night so we might come upon the dawn as a new creation.