2nd Sunday Before Lent, 2017


So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep from becoming conceited.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12)


Think of some things that show your weakness.  1-2-3-go!


“I’m so helpless to do much of anything about suffering in this world – hunger, wars, hate, and natural disasters.  Christians are persecuted more so now than ever before!  Refugees exist.  Corrupt governments exists. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. People are really hurting.


Speaking of hurting, this body is sick, it has diabetes, needs to be on dialysis, won’t recover from surgery, needs surgery or is just plain tired and full of pain.


O, and speaking of pain, how about the pain my mom is in or my child is in.  There are so many that need money and healing and visitation and my time and my love. How can I help so many when so many need help?


I am trying.  I keep trying to pray more and trust God more. I’m also trying not be angry, lustful or jealous. O.K., sometimes I don’t even try not to sin.  God has every right to be mad at me.  I’m a sinner and deserve His wrath.  ‘Be gracious to me, O Lord, a sinner.’”


And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 


Paul has God’s Word here.  And so do you.


Things that show our weakness would lead to despair without that Word.


God in His infinite wisdom and mercy combines these two things: things that show our weakness and His Word, my grace is sufficient for you.


God will destroy all evil and you will have everlasting peace.  As we patiently wait, here’s what God wants to do when we suffer.  He wants to plant His Word deeper within your heart.


15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience (Luke 9).


But what God wants to do, Satan, the world, and our flesh want to do the opposite.  God wants to show us our weakness so that we might rely on His strength and His grace. Satan, the world and our flesh want to convince us through suffering that God must either be weak or hate us.


Paul could’ve easily been convinced that either God must hate him or that God was weak. Imprisonments, beatings, hunger, constant rejection, danger, the daily anxiety for all the churches, and a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan, that he pleaded three time for God to take away.  But Paul had God’s Word, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore, Paul heard, held it fast in an honest and good heart, and bore fruit with patience.


That’s why God gives us His Word.  So we don’t despair when our weakness is shown.


But why does God also want to show our weakness?


In context, Paul also helps us see that God wants to prevent us from relying on our strength, to prevent our boasting.  We can’t boast like Paul.  We weren’t taken up to the third heaven and given direct revelations from the Son of God, hearing things so wonderful and awesome that it cannot be told, which man may not utter. 


But we, too, are tempted to boast for two simple reasons.  1.) God gives us good things and 2.) We do good things


If our confidence is like a balloon, then we’re tempted to fill it up with God’s created gifts and our good works.  My job is good.  My family is great.  I go to church.  I tithe.  My health is strong. I pray, I take care of my kids, I forgive, I provide for my family, I was nice this time, I did this, I didn’t do that.  The bigger the balloon gets, the more tempted we are to lean on it.


Our Lord, out of love and mercy for us, pops this by showing us how weak we truly are.  He doesn’t make us weak.  He shows us how weak we already are.


When that balloon is popped and we have nothing left to rely on, when suffering comes in the world, in our bodies, in our family, or when we begin to see how sinful we truly are, our Lord gives us the gift of ears that hear Him, that rely on His Word, for to us who are being saved [this Word] is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).


If you have prayed: “Lord, take away my pain.  Make my family member healthy again.  Relieve me from this depression and anxiety.  Don’t let them die.  Make this better, take that away, or don’t this thing happen and His answer to you has been “no,” it is not just “no” but it is “my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.”


The One who answers you with that, the One you’re praying to, is Jesus.  When you look upon the face of God, you have the promise of a gracious and strong God. Through the seeming weakness and foolishness of the cross, He defeated your death and the cause of all suffering.  It will end.  It is defeated.  Your sin is forgiven.  God is not angry at you.


He does love you.  In His suffering He faced what we in our suffering have never faced – the abandonment of God.  So when you suffer, you know that for Christ’s sake, you will never be forsaken, never be abandoned, never suffer alone.



Think of something that shows your weakness.  1-2-3-go!


You are helpless to so many needs in the world and in your life.  That pulls you out of thinking that you are their God.  The true God loves them even more than you do.  You’re called to live in love for them and do what you can.  Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness.


Christians are persecuted in the world.  How long, O Lord?  Vengeance is God’s.  He will repay. Through suffering, they witness and confess the true source of their life and hope.  We have an opportunity to do the same.  Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness


Your body is in pain?  You still have sin in it, but your sin is forgiven.  And this mortal body must put on immortality, this perishable body the imperishable.  You won’t have pain in the resurrection.  Hope in God and suffer well.  Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness.


You’re trying not to sin and failing.  Good.  You know you still need Christ and His grace and His power, then.  Receive His grace, His powerful Word, and His body and His blood.  Come weak and weary.  Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness.


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