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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Weakness as Strength

"That I, Paul, might not become too elated, because of the abundance of the revelations, 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

The nature of St Paul's "thorn in the flesh" has fascinated Christians for centuries. Some believe Paul had  opponents within the early Christian community who undermined his word and authority. Others suggest he struggled with his physical appearance which he feared might distract people from hearing God's word, and, while there is little evidence in the text, there are those who believe that he suffered severe sexual temptations

My personal bias is that Paul, while writing beautifully and lyrically, suffered with a speech impediment. How difficult it is for anyone to stutter or freeze when called upon to speak in public. How much more difficult it must have been for Paul who, knowing his authority was from God, wondered why God would not allow him to speak with the same beauty with which he wrote.

Ironically, it is often the weakness of others, especially when it is accepted, that draws us to them, and while Paul admitted his struggle might be God's will, it was still painful for him to stumble so obviously before others.

In the end, however, whatever it was that troubled Paul, it is very clear to most that our weaknesses help us face our own struggles and develop the kind of compassion that draws others to faith.

Today, embrace your weakness.

Have your weaknesses ever turned into strength?

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