That Judgment Thing 12 – Of Thorns and Grace

Saint Paul at his Writing Desk - Rembrandt
Saint Paul at his Writing Desk – Rembrandt

“I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Cor. 12: 8, 9)

According to Freud, the driving principles of mankind are in two words, pain and pleasure. And religion means prohibition.

But I say our single most important need is to be right. And our single most powerful drive is justice. Justice will trump anything. And true religion means liberty. “Be fruitful and multiply,” God said.

But too much of the church preaches Freudian principles looking for silver linings and praying for things to go well or get better, rather than “Your will be done.”

“Your will…”  seems so fatalistic. And thorns aren’t from God – they’re bad, right?

Listening this morning to the reaction of another mass shooting, a pastor prayed for protection by the blood of Christ. The “blood of Christ” I’ve heard used has always been to placate an angry god, not give life to the dead. So the church continually needs to assure herself of God’s mercy.

They say the man with the gun was “deranged” Sure he was! He was looking for satisfaction of the flesh like the rest of us. Do we (the church) not have anything else to offer?

Pleasure is a fleeting thing. And thorns are only bad when God’s grace isn’t sufficient.

In the above quote from 2 Corinthians, a tormented Paul wasn’t talking to himself. And while he might not have heard a voice, the words rang as clear as a bell as he rested in the arms of his Lord.

Been there. So may anyone.

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