Daily Devotional

The Words of Hope Devotional is a non-profit, donor-supported publication whose goal is to encourage readers to grow in faith through the practice of daily Bible reading and prayer.

Today's Devotional: 
July 24, 2021

Jacob at the Jabbok

Read: Genesis 32:22-32

And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. (v. 24)

This is the ultimate inexhaustible story. I’ve read books, commentaries, sermons, and articles about it. It was the text for my ordination sermon years ago. I’ve thought about it for at least four decades. Yet after all of that, I cannot definitively state the meaning of the story.

One thing that makes the story cryptic is the unknown identity of the stranger with whom Jacob wrestled. Various theories abound: it was a demon, an angel, his brother Esau, or none other than Yahweh. In spite of that, the story does lend itself easily to application: We all wrestle with unconquerable foes, be they addictions, compulsions, or some other inner demon. Maybe the foe is crippling doubt or sin or worry or shame. Like Jacob, the best we are ever able to do is wrestle to a draw. This side of heaven, our battles go back and forth.

There is also something universal about the fruitlessness of wrestling for a blessing. Assuming Jacob’s opponent is God himself, why would Jacob need to fight God for what God so freely gives? We don’t wrestle our way to grace. Throughout his life, Jacob had tried to con his way into being blessed. He never needed to. By the time this encounter ended, Jacob the trickster limped away with a new name and a new identity. Throughout his life, he had underestimated the power of grace, and God as well. Jacob never had to fight. —Jeff Munroe

As you pray, confess what you wrestle with.

Helen Hofman

Trust and Don’t Be Afraid

Read: Psalm 34:1-10 He delivered me from all my fears. (v. 4 NIV) I was in a hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, scheduled to have another lump removed from one of my breasts. Each previous growth had been benign, but

Helen Hofman

A Good Reputation

Read: Proverbs 22:1; 1 Peter 2:12-17 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. (Proverbs 22:1 NIV) During the Zapatista uprising, rebels often seized farms in Chiapas, killing or driving

Helen Hofman

A Blanket of Fog

Read: Acts 12:5-11 Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. (1 Kings 8:28 NIV) It was the late-1990s. Zapatista rebels had seized the Tzeltal Bible Center in Chiapas. Martin and Rosa’s

Helen Hofman

Forgive and Move On

Read: 1 Peter 2:19-25; 3:14, 17 But if you suffer for doing good . . . , this is commendable before God. (2:20 NIV) Construction of the Tzeltal Bible School in Chiapas began in the early-1960s. A Tzeltal carpenter, Martin

Helen Hofman

Worshiping in the Woods

Read: Psalm 95:1-7 You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power. (Rev. 4:11 NIV) Thomas’s parents arranged his marriage to Maria when they were both teenagers. Maria was an orphan raised by her non-Christian

Helen Hofman

The Unexpected Mechanic

Read: Psalm 33:12-22 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. (v. 20 NIV) It was ten o’clock at night. We were driving on a lonely two-track road in Tojolabal country. We had climbed

Helen Hofman

God Restores Peace

Read: Psalm 97 He guards the lives of his faithful ones. (v. 10 NIV) Every Wednesday evening we picked up our Tojolabal language helper, Francisco, and any other Tojolabal Christians who wanted to go with us, and joined the ten

Helen Hofman

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

Read: Mark 5:1-13; 1 John 4:18 But perfect love drives out fear. (1 John 4:18 NIV) I was a young mother of two sons, ages one and three. My husband was traveling on a missionary visit to a remote area,

Helen Hofman

This Year We Have Corn

Read: Jeremiah 17:7-8 But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. (v. 7 NIV) Juan had come from far away to the Tzeltal Bible School for a week-long Bible institute. One day he

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