Each Sunday, Celia and I will publish a short reflection on a passage from Scripture.
For our first one, we decided that we would each write a reflection on Paul's 2nd letter to the Corinthians 12:7-10.
I’m sure the phrase “why do bad things happen to good people” has crossed your path at least once in your life. It’s kind of a shallow cliche that could hold any number of interpretations, but when it applies to suffering and anguish that we are personally afflicted with, we can’t help but to think “how can something so horrible be happening to me?” Paul talks about being afflicted by suffering which came from satan himself so that he might not become too “elated, because of the abundance of the revelations” (2 Cor. 12:7-10). God says that “His grace is sufficient” for us and that His “power is made perfect in weakness.” I often think about how could anything good come from my weakness, my unbelief, my disobedience, or my pain? How could so much ickiness and shame supply anything good?
Paul’s words echo hope when he says, “I am content with weakness…for the sake of Christ, for when I am weak, then I am strong.” He is saying that above all the horribleness, guilt, sin, and shame that we carry through our life, we carry it for the sake of our Savior. And no amount of “bad things” can ever surpass his Love and strength. In more simple terms, our weakness becomes our strength when we suffer for the sake of Christ.
Many of us are hurting our self-image without realizing it. We’re all broken, weak, sinful human beings. Some of us struggle with additional baggage—like a severely low self-esteem, or tragic hardships and sufferings. A common solution that we apply to our struggles is to recreate ourselves. We recreate our minds with different thoughts about ourselves, about other people, and about life. We recreate our circumstances by fleeing pain, difficulty, failure, and humiliation by pursuing achievement, success, security, and honor. While some temporary good can be done from this, when we recreate ourselves and our reality by our own power and purpose, we are ultimately repeating the Tower of Babel. We make a name for ourselves instead of receiving our name, our identity, and our dignity from the God who created us and redeemed us.
St. Paul gives us the right solution for weakness and hardships in today’s reading (2 Cor 12:7-10). “I will boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. … for when I am weak, then I am strong.” The solution, according to Paul, is humility. Humility isn’t an attitude of self-abasement and manufactured negativity. “Humility,” according to St. Vincent de Paul, “is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying.” We do well to begin with acknowledging our own weaknesses, our hardships, our sin. We do even better to seek to see ourselves as God sees us—as a broken sinner redeemed by His love.
Lord Jesus Christ, you “became poor … that I might be made rich.” I am a sinner in need of your mercy. I am wounded in need of your healing. Open the eyes of my heart to see not only you, but to see myself in your light and truth. Help me to realize what it is to be a beloved child of God. Give me a generous heart to see others as better than myself. And grant me the peace of soul to know that your mercy and love is always embracing me.