Sojourner Truth was a leader in both Abolitionism and the women’s suffrage movement. I love her testy prayers for I believe it shows a foundational pattern of relating with God that at His heart of hearts is welcomed. When she was having trouble financially she prayed, “Oh God, you know I have no money, but You can make the people do for me, and You must make the people do for me. I will never give You peace ‘til You do, God.”
In many ways Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel never gave God much peace. He twice cheated his brother Esau out of what was rightfully his. He took advantage of his father’s blindness, outmaneuvered his father-in-law Laban by conniving him out of a good majority of his flock. Then he ran off with Laban’s two daughters and about everything else he could put in a cart.
Many years later Esau hunts him down. At one point when Jacob was alone he spread his fears before God. Then the angel of God started wrestling him. Jacob held his ground, though they went at it all night. Jacob wanted blessing, a bestowal of good, and he just wasn’t letting up until he got it.
Finally this angel touches the socket of Jacob’s thigh and dislocates it. Then he asked Jacob, “What is your name?” After Jacob answered him, he said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Frederick Buechner says it well: “God doesn’t love people because of who they are but because of who he is. It’s on the house is one way of saying it and it’s by grace is another, just as it was by grace that it was Jacob of all people who became not only the father of the twelve tribes of Israel but the many times great grandfather of Jesus of Nazareth, and just as it was by grace that Jesus of Nazareth was born in to this world at all.”
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