I preached on the epistle text (2 Corinthians 12.2-10) this past Sunday. I feel like God is leading me to use this text again (the fact I am using that kind of language leads me to believe that God actually must be doing this). I think this is because I am sorting things out in my own life, dealing with past issues, and looking to the future. I have heard it said the best sermons are those preached to yourself first. Then, I am preaching at Langho this Sunday. This is the church that will be closing at the end of September (after the Fall Synod gives its approval).
The passage contains the famous verse about God’s response to Paul who asked God three times to remove the ‘thorn’ or ‘stake’. ‘My grace is sufficient for you,’ came back God’s answer.
I can’t help but think that this sound a lot like the old saying, ‘Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.’ So, Paul didn’t get whatever was torturing him removed, but he does get grace. I want to look at this week, what does that mean? Not only for myself, but for my church which is having trouble seeing beyond the building.
I am not looking for an easy or even a deep theological answer that ‘solves’ the problem. I spent a wonder conversation recently with someone telling me that she gets cross with God when she remembers a time he didn’t answer her prayer, so she tries not to remember it. I love that expression! And it expresses an actual relationship with God! How many times in relationships do we sometimes have to simply say that? We get cross with others, but in some circumstances we cannot reach a definitive conclusion, but choose to lay it aside enough to get on with the relationship rather than banging on about it. I have plenty of friends with quirks that drive me nuts, but don’t end the friendship. I am sure they would say the same about me. Why should we think our relationship with God is above getting cross with him?
So, when we get cross with God, we get grace. But, as someone who has difficulty recognising God’s grace in my life, maybe I just want grace to make more sense than it does at times.