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Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians 12: 2-10 (NIV)
2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows. 3 And I know that this man – whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows – 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Loving Heavenly Father,
We thank you for the life and witness of the Apostle Paul. We thank you that, when he was violently opposing your Church, in Jesus you called him and your grace changed him. While we might never share Paul’s experiences, we thank you that we may be encouraged by his reference to them and even more by his admission of weakness.
You know, Lord, that each one of us struggles in our Christian journey. Each of us experiences uncertainty, doubt, anxiety, fear and dread. Each of us suffers from infirmities; each carries weaknesses. Some of our weaknesses are physical, some emotional and some to do with how we reason and how we relate with others. Some weaknesses are of character; we struggle to live lives worthy of your love for us.
We are heartened to read of Paul’s own struggles and that he pleaded with you to remove the “thorn in (his) flesh”. You did not. You wanted Paul to rely on you.
Loving God, we realise we have no alternative but to rely on you. Though we may think we would like to be self-sufficient, you make it evident through our vulnerabilities that we are merely creatures and that you are our Creator. Enable us to accept this and to live contented lives under your grace.
O God, in this week of significant changes among the most senior leaders of the Australian Defence Force, we pray for those stepping down and we uphold to you those taking on new and demanding responsibilities. Help them to put aside any aspirations to be masterful in all circumstances. Rather, would you guide them to rely on your goodness and grace.
We pray too for ourselves, that we will be more tolerant of the weaknesses we might identify in others and more lenient towards the weaknesses we discover in ourselves, accepting your love and thanking you for your power at work in us, your power made perfect in our weakness.
We pray this through Jesus. Amen.