Each week Pastor Sarah offers a devotional reflection to connect with the South Shore UMC Family. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!
Sunday’s Scripture ~ Matthew 2:1-12.
Devotional Scripture ~ II Corinthians 12:7-9.
In our devotional scripture for this week the Apostle Paul begs for a thorn in the flesh to be taken from him. We do not know the identity of the thorn, just that Paul wants it gone.
Paul’s investment in the early Christian community at Corinth, as in the others, is great. He regularly faces opposition. He experiences harm. He is even imprisoned. Even so, he carries on – he perseveres – because that is the strength of God’s claim on his life. The Apostle likely had days where he wanted to throw in the towel. It was those days, I am sure – because I have had them, too! – that God hands the towel back to him (to me, to us) that he (I, we) would continue serving.
Paul prays persistently – I pleaded with the Lord three times – that the thorn would depart.
Paul prays for abstraction. God answers with assurance.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul says in Romans 5:20, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Grace will have the last word, not sin. And so life will have the last word, not death. Therefore, we can draw strength upon strength from grace to endure life’s thorns and moments of weakness and hardship because we know the end of the story – life because of grace.
We – humans – are unable to save ourselves. We cannot liberate ourselves from sin – once and for all – on our own. Grace is what makes the way. Grace is what meets us in weakness and transforms us in and into strength. What we cannot achieve on our is given to us as a gift. What our actions scream we do not deserve, we receive in abundance.
Moments of weakness and hardship, therefore, should not scare or overwhelm us. They may for an initial moment, but the desire of God is that we would grow to understand these occasions as assurances of God’s amazing grace.
God’s grace is sufficient for us. God’s grace meets us in each and every need and answers it will not always be this way. God walks with us each step of the way, guiding where our feet fall and making confident the ground beneath us. God is drawing us towards life.
May this beautiful gift of assurance lead us and be foundational for us in the New Year.
Reflection: What are you areas of weakness in your life where you need God’s strength? Write a prayer earnestly asking God for healing and help in these places of weakness. Remember that our God is for us, and working all things together for our good.
Prayer: “Glorious now behold him arise; King and God and sacrifice: Alleluia, Alleluia, sounds through the earth and skies. O star of wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light.”* Amen.
*“We Three Kings,” The United Methodist Hymnal 254.
**Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal