Sometimes love and circumstance push through our reticence like a swollen river finally pouring through flood gates. We release our pent-up pain, and another’s heart opens to receive it. That’s what Paul attempts as he bares his love to the Corinthian church and recounts his sacrifices, begging them to release their hearts’ doors toward him too.
Decades ago, as I prepared to leave my parents’ home at the end of our Christmas visit, they asked where things stood between me and my estranged husband. I had spent months in deep, constant wrestling—therapy, spiritual direction, reading, writing, ruminating. I hadn’t talked much about my guilt or his. I’m the oldest daughter, mother of their first grandchild. And Dad was my hero—reserved, principled, tender. I liked reporting my successes, not my transgressions. But they knew.
It was time to admit that I expected to file for divorce. That wasn’t the answer they wanted. My dad feared I was wishing on a star. My situation was tenuous. My son was only seven. I had an apartment and a job that didn’t pay much yet.
“Can’t you give him another chance?” my dad asked. I shook my head no.
“Maybe you’ve already given him a lot of chances,” Dad said. Bingo. I couldn’t go back to the man who wanted to punish me into staying but wouldn’t risk himself or his money for counseling unless first I promised to stay.
Finally, my father looked me in the eye. “What you did was wrong,” he said. “But I’ve loved you since the day you were born. I still do. I always will.” Those words changed my life.
With whom do you need to pour out your passions, pains, fears, or failures? Can you open up the whole truth for love’s sake, as Paul does?
Gracious One, flood our failures open with love and reveal our belonging. Amen.
As children of God, we will face opposition; but God will ultimately give us victory. The psalmist cries out to God asking for deliverance from oppression at the hands of his enemies and concludes the psalm with the assurance that God will do so. Tradition credits this psalm to David, who as a boy had risked his life against Goliath based on that same assurance. Goliath mocked the Israelites and their God, but God gave the victory. Paul recounts his sufferings for the gospel, yet he is not overcome or in despair, for he trusts in God. Jesus calms a storm and is disappointed that the disciples show so little faith. Why do they not believe in God’s deliverance? And what about us? Do we still believe in God’s deliverance?
Read 1 Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49. What “armor” do you use to protect yourself? When have you found the courage to put aside your armor because it was holding you back?
Read Psalm 9:9-20. When have you been provoked to cry out, “Rise up, O Lord?” On whose behalf did you cry?
Read 2 Corinthians 6:1-13. How have you commended yourself as a servant of God?
Read Mark 4:35-41. How do you find the quiet center when the storms of life rage around you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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