Brothers and sisters can be very different. That's the way it was with two guys named Sol and Jack. What made it hard, though, was that their parents played favorites. Dad favored Sol, and Mom favored Jack. But Sol usually came out ahead because he was older.
Jack didn't like this, so he started tricking Sol. One day, when Sol was really hungry, he asked for some special soup Jack had made. Jack agreed to give him some, on one condition: Sol would have to give up his rights as the older son, and give them to Jack. He wasn't kidding about this. He wanted to take something that wasn't his.
Later, their father wanted to give Sol the blessing fathers gave to their oldest sons. But Jack dressed up like Sol and tricked his dad (who couldn't see very well) into giving him the blessing instead! When Sol heard this, he was ready to kill Jack. So Jack had to run away - and start a new life.
Jack began having long talks with God. Unforgettable conversations, where Jack heard God tell him what was right. God promised Jack that He'd take care of him and his family. And gradually, Jack learned not to be dishonest, the way he had been with his brother.
With God's help, Jack became a successful farmer and had many children. But he wanted to go back home. Eventually, the time was right.
The night before the two brothers met each other for the first time in 20 years, Jack was scared. But God appeared to him again - and changed how he thought. Jack saw the face of God that night. So he named the place where this happened Peniel, which means "face of God."
The next day, Sol ran to meet Jack. He hugged and kissed him. Jack told his brother, "When you welcomed me and I saw your face, it was like seeing the face of God" (Gen. 33:10, Contemporary English Version). You can read about this in the Bible or in the Koran. As you'll see, Jack's real name is Jacob, and his brother's is Esau.
Actually, anyone can see the face of God. But sometimes we don't do this until we have to. That's what happened with me.
I was in a new school, in a new city. There was a girl in my class who was very popular. And she didn't like me. She said a lot of mean things about me and my family because we were different. It hurt. A lot.
Here's the good thing, though. I started listening to God! He sent me a wonderful message: that He loved me. This love, I realized, would stop the hurt. Because God's love is so much more powerful than hate. It's the great power of the universe - the only power. The book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, helped me understand this. "Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you," the book says (pg. 571). Panoply means "armor."
God told me something else. It was that I had to love this girl who didn't like me. Because God loved her. He was her Father and Mother. He created her to give - and to receive - His love.
Bit by bit, I saw that I could love this girl, because God was shining His love on both of us. He shines it on everyone. This love of God, I realized, would help me love that girl. It would even let me see the face of God in her.
And it did. We became good friends.
Even people who are very different can see God's face in each other. God is everywhere. Love is everywhere. The Koran says it this way: "Wherever you may turn, there will be God's countenance; for God is so Boundless, Aware!" (translated by T. B. Irving). And the Bible says it this way: "The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace" (Num. 6:25, 26).
God's face is always shining with love for you. And for the kids in Kosovo. And all the kids of the world.
And Jacob was left alone; and
there wrestled a man with him
until the breaking of the day....
And Jacob called the name of
the place Peniel: for I have seen
God face to face, and my
life is preserved.
Genesis 32:24, 30