Finding Grace through Weakness
As Jesus told Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12: 9). Paul related this after saying “Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.” (2 Cor. 12: 7).
We do not know what this thorn represented but it is certain that as with anyone who accomplishes success in any endeavor how quickly we raise our head above our humility and like a successful business man with his thumbs in the lapels of his clothing standing tall and lording it over all others. As if to say, look at me, especially when we exert ourselves in evangelizing forgetting God and the very reason we were called in this ministry.
When the moment of conviction confronts us and stands before our eyes as a finger of disapproval wags before our minds reminding us of where all this ability came from, we fall on our knees as a sign of humility. As with Paul, the thorn must be deep enough to get our attention. It isn’t the accusation that is important, it is the closed mind to what we have become and passing it off as a ho-hum attitude that can blind our sense of what we are called to accomplish.
However, as each of us struggles to keep our heads above water when pride seems to confront our attempts to do the Lord’s bidding without calling on our own endeavors without his help. How simple those attitudes quickly surround our success makes us feel the efforts we produced came from us alone. This is what the thorns Paul felt forgetting the grace God gave him and going his own way and sometimes elating his own progress, forgetting God all the while.
As I look back on my own ministry and suddenly remember the times I allowed my own pride to take over and forget who gave me this ministry which surpassed any effort I used which pushed the thankfulness I should have adhered to.
Each of us have become evangelizers to the poor in spirit who wait for God’s word, to comfort and lift them up finding God through our efforts, but with the grace that God has blessed each one with. That is the present we received with the Incarnation of Christ sending us to remind all that his birth is forgiveness, and our mission is to reach others with this eternal gift of the new-born baby.
Ralph B. Hathaway