"Dark Night With God"

The Upper Room devotional reflection for Thursday, September 23, 2021, comes to us from Valerie Bryant Bennett of Tennessee



Genesis 32:22-30

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”


Dark Night With God


On a Saturday morning several years ago, my best friend died in an accident. I spent much of the day with his family, but it wasn’t until that night in bed, alone in the dark, that I was truly struck by the impact of losing him. I cried out to God through my tears but felt no response. I wondered if God had turned a deaf ear. Finally, I remembered how Jacob told the angel, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26). So I prayed, “God, I know you are there, and I will hold on until you answer me.” At that moment I was suddenly flooded with an overwhelming sense of God’s presence and peace.


I will always remember the power and intimacy of that dark night with God. If we talk to people of faith who have experienced some life’s darkest places, we discover a strange truth: it is in those places that they more clearly saw some of God’s most precious treasures. They may tell you that in times of relentless pain or sickness they discovered the love and comfort of God in ways they can’t explain. Some of God’s most valuable gifts are revealed in the darkness. Because God is always with us, even the most painful experiences can contain life-changing treasure.


Prayer Focus:

Someone grieving a friend’s death.


Thought for the Day:

I find some of God’s most valuable gifts in places I least expect.


Prayer:

Dear God, make your presence powerfully known to us when we are despairing. Bring us to new life through Christ. Amen. –Valerie Bryant Bennett

 

Friends – Experiences of the death of someone we love is always a reminder of God’s presence in our personal lives. Both of my parents have died, and my husband died in 2009. And last year, a very dear friend of mine, died after a long struggle with cancer amidst the pandemic. I believe that God speaks to each of us in the voice that brings us the most comfort and sense of God’s presence, especially in our darkest times. God can speak when we are alone in the darkness, or through nature when we are walking by ourselves in God’s natural world, or perhaps through the voices of those who surround us. For me, the voice of God has been most clear through the presence and words of those who have come to offer me comfort and words of sympathy and encouragement.

--Pastor bea