…he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
Ernest Hemingway once wrote: “Life breaks all of us, but some of us are strong in the broken places.”
In this letter to the Corinthians Paul does not reveal what his physical, mental, or emotional battle is that he struggles with daily, but he recognizes that it is in that weakness that God has given him sufficient grace to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
God has made him strong in the broken places of his life.
This weekend we take time to remember the price that so many have paid for our freedom in the United States of America, and the many who have laid down their lives each time that freedom was threatened. Many of the veterans of these wars have lived out their lives in wheel chairs, suffering physically, mentally or emotionally for the price they paid in battle for the freedom we are privileged to share today. Because of their broken places we share this freedom that allows us the privilege to share God’s grace with others.
As we celebrate this Fourth of July holiday, we need to remember that before there were any celebrations of independence in this country there was great suffering and self-denial.
The pilgrims at Plymouth endured brutal winters in 1620. Only 46 (nearly half) of the original 102 colonists died from lack of fresh food to eat and their inability to treat their diseases. There were seven times more graves in Plymouth than there were huts they had built to live in.
Surely some of them grieved or regretted to some extent their decision to venture across a wide ocean to an untamed American wilderness. Suffering to insure freedom has been a repeated chorus throughout our nation’s history.
As we enjoy this Independence Day holiday, many of our fellow Americans live in misery and profound, unsettling uncertainty about the future. Many of us have taken heavy financial hits over the past year because of COVID-19, and we are informed that our battle with diseases is still in our future forecast. Many who observed July 4th last year held jobs that they no longer have, and the ranks of the unemployed have swollen to record highs. Suffering is not through with us, but in our suffering we can depend on the presence of God and the grace of God to be sufficient for us just as Paul did.
As we look in the mirror each morning and see the quiet and slow evidence of strain and stress of life etched deeper on our brows, may we wholly depend on God’s grace to be sufficient for us.
May we know that those are not meaningless wrinkles, but lines of character and wisdom that time has placed there to remind us that life breaks all of us, but because of God’s Grace we become strong in our broken places, and in that strength we can help others grow strong in their brokenness.
May we never take this freedom we celebrate this weekend for granted, but give thanks to God that we are privileged to live in a nation that values freedom. May we stop to give thanks to God for all who suffered and died for our freedom, and may God lead us to grow strong in our broken places.
- Where are your broken places that you know without a doubt God’s grace uses to strengthen you and your witness of his love and grace?
- Have you given God thanks today for your broken places where you have come to see God’s grace working in you?
- To whom can you reach out to in their brokenness and suffering to reassure them that God’s grace is sufficient for them?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.