The AMI QT Devotionals from December 25-31 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology. He is married to Esther.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Scars of Remembrance”
Genesis 32:30-32 (ESV)
So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Peniel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.
When I tore my ACL in college, it wasn’t a quick and sudden tear—rather, it was a slow and partial tear each time. Every time I went to the doctor, he would say that it was just a sprained knee, and that I would need to rest it before resuming athletic activity. I ended up partially tearing it quite a few times—in football, in basketball, and even one time at one of those trampoline parks. I finally spoke to a doctor who told me to get surgery, and I did. To this day, the scar and the slight numbing sensation around my knee is a reminder of all of the painful moments of the tears and the post-surgery rehab. As I was chatting with a college student recently about how I don’t really play sports that much anymore—even though I am medically cleared to do so—we concluded that it was kind of like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), where I am too scared to get hurt again because of the painful memories of getting hurt.
In today’s passage, we see that Jacob (Israel) is left with a limp because the angel of the Lord touched his hip socket and was put out of joint. We don’t know if this is a permanent limp, but this event must have been a very memorable one, for the people of Israel refuse to eat the sinew of the thigh on the hip socket because of this story (v.32). But why is there such an emphasis on this limp, and what is the significance of this?
When I think of the scar on my knee, it brings back painful memories of what happened, and regardless of how hard I try to forget it, I can’t because it is a part of me. Perhaps Jacob’s limp was meant to serve a similar purpose—bringing back memories for Jacob of the specific moment God blesses him. In this moment, Jacob has been stripped of everything that he has sought to use as a covering, and in this vulnerable place, he wrestles with God. Perhaps God purposely caused this limp so that he would forever remember this encounter with God.
As we carry physical scars, we also carry emotional and spiritual scars. Scars are not always a negative thing, because they often signify healing. Scars form after wounds have been healed. Are we aware of the ways our scars remind us of important moments in our lives? How fitting that today is the last day of the year— it is a time of reflection, and what better way than to look back on the different scars and marks we carry from our encounters with God. What has God done this past year in your life? What are ways that He left scars upon you because you needed to be healed of things? Let’s not only look forward with vision and expectation, but to do so with the reminder that we have each encountered God in powerful ways; and the scars that we carry are marks that stay with us for the purpose of reminders.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the scars of remembrance in my life. Thank You for the reminder that You are present in my life and the ways You have healed me. As I start out this new year, I pray that the orientation and direction of this year would be dictated upon the ways You have touched me this past year. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Corinthians 15-16