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What’s in a thorn? Grace!

When I was a teenager, I had a good friend and neighbor who taught me how to work on cars. He always seemed to have something going on in his life, and, most of the time, it wasn’t anything good. He would always look at us with a funny smile, then sigh and say: “If it isn’t one thing, it’s three!” Then he’d laugh and go on about life.

I’ve always remembered that saying, but more importantly, the attitude. Paul writes in II Corinthians 12 about a thorn in his flesh that he asked the Lord to remove, and in verse 9 we see God’s reply and Paul’s reaction.

“9 He said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.’ So I’ll gladly spend my time bragging about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power can rest on me.” (Common English translation)

Most of us have something in our lives that annoys us. Many of us are blessed with a multitude of them! But what good are they? I discovered at a young age that some people feel that no one without the same issues as they experience can understand them. So believe it or not, if you have an issue, it may turn out to be a ministry tool. I am blind, and no one who is blind can say: “you just don’t understand what my life is like” because I do! And this helps me to establish a connection that others may not be able to. I have a good friend with cancer who ministers to the people who are having treatments at the same time. Again, a door is open through a common link. God’s presence truly becomes strong in our weaknesses.

And what if you are blessed to be without these kinds of issues? God will use you in other ways! Everyone has been given a job to do, to spread God’s word to the world. The best way to do this was given us by St. Francis: “Preach the gospel daily, and if necessary, use words.”  The best way to show God’s love is through action.

Often on Sundays, someone comments that they couldn’t get up in front of people and talk like I do. The truth is God doesn’t call everyone to show God’s love in the same way. How we do that is going to be different for all of us. You don’t need to preach. Giving a neighbor a ride or checking in on someone on a hot day; leaving a bag of groceries on a struggling family’s porch; or reading the mail to a person who can’t; all these show God’s love. Again, our weakness will be used by God for good by showing us other ways to serve His people. And the best part?  People I talk to who reach out to do God’s work, even if they weren’t comfortable, felt far more blessed than they ever expected, but then, that’s God for you!

Pastor Darryl Miller

Sand Lake UMC,
65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC,
13600 Cypress, Sand Lake

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