2 Corinthians 12:1-10— Obstacles to ministry may occur with the handicap of the preacher. Paul is promised grace to bear his thorn in the flesh. Paul is fed up with his opponents who cast doubt on his apostleship and boast about their work and religious experiences. This lesson is a part of the “terrible letter” (chapters 10-12) in which Paul makes a heated defense of his apostleship. If his opponents can boast of their accomplishments, he can, too.
“But” means God’s “No!” to Paul’s prayers that the torn might be removed. Even Paul did not have all his prayers answered. At one time he wrote, “We know no how to pray as we ought.” There is such a thing as unanswered prayers. God does not answer as in Paul’s case, because it is for our ultimate good.
We usually boast of our strengths and accomplishments. Paul learned through his thorn that there is a theology of the cross. God works in and through our weaknesses. In suffering he accomplishes redemption. In death he produces life. When we are weak, God has the opportunity to work in us. The result is strength for us.
This passage is part of his boasting. Paul claims he, too, has had an abundance of revelations, but to keep him humble God gave him a thorn in the flesh. Repeatedly he prayed to have it removed, but God assured him His grace was enough to bear it. Now Paul boasts of his weaknesses, handicaps, and sufferings, for through weakness the power of Christ comes upon him. Americans love winners. There is an aversion in our day to weakness, pain, and suffering.
Where are you weak? When has God said “no” to your prayers only to say, “My grace is sufficient”? What life lessons can we gain through suffering, setback and loss?Collect for Pentecost 6—Grant, Lord, that the course of this world may be so governed by Your direction that Your Church may rejoice in serving You in godly peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen -1 July 2021—
 Lift High the Cross copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
 Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B, John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH
 Collect for Pentecost 6, Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis