Therefore I am (not always so) content ..

“…because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated,* a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.

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Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,
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* but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,* in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
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Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”    (2 Corinthians 12 :7 )
In this case Paul was talking to the Corinthians about his daily walk and how it is that life is not quite the bowl of cherries that we would like it to be, especially for those who walk from life to gospel and gospel to life.

Frequently this particular reading comes in the morning prayers as we enter the beginning of the day faced with the task of earning our daily bread.    It comes as we prepare to enter into the secular world, and face the challenges that the day produces.

Sometimes it is easy to say to ourselves, OK, I am content with all the challenges, the insults, the trials and frustrations and even pain that might come my way this day because God is there with me. His grace will see me through it all and that is enough.
right ?  right !
Now, you close the book, you are spiritually centered, you have recieved your spiritual feeding and you feel good about the day ahead, and confident in the path before you.  Things are good !  You get your morning coffee and your senses come alive.. you smell that sweet aroma…. you take that first sip and there is that oh so very satisfying filling of the pallet.. and the day begins.

You are now face to face with the challenges we prayed about earlier and the frustration level rises.. the those people who were so demanding, self entitled, pompous, arrogant and generally inhumane are back with a vengence !

The very things that make our life difficult, and the mind revolts, and shuts down.  That very human response to not accept the treatment you receive from that other person or people.  There is no way that you should have to deal with this and yet there you are.  To make matters worse, you are unhappy that causes you to ponder through your life and think of all the other things that are also out of sorts, or make you unhappy and it causes you anger, discontent and frustration.

This continues for the rest of the day and in the quiet of the afternoon, we return to prayer… we return to the quiet.. the very place that we left in the wee hours of the morning.  We return with our anger, our frustration, our failure and our broken-ness.
We return and we consider that place that we began the day, and how we failed in our mission to be content with insults, and injuries, and we were not content with our hardships or constraints.  We did not boast gladly of the weakness we exibited.
Mostly we are once again face to face with the idea that, we most certainly were NOT showing the face of Christ to those who were the focal point of the frustrations we experienced this day.  Maybe, it was that you were weak.

Maybe you returned home and carrying all that hurt and frustration and pain and challenge with you, you met your spouse and things were not different.  Something at home also was not quite right, or was not working and you did not also have a great experience there either.  Now you really feel out of sorts and somehow things really need to change.
As Christians we are not spared the challenges of life.  Sometimes not only are we not spared the challenges of everyday life, but we have more challenges simply by virtue of the fact that we are children of God and we are called to be more.  We are challenged to find ways to bring Christ into the world, and to be Christ to others.

You might wonder why its so hard, or you fail.  First it is important to understand that the first blessing that you have received is the wisdom to understand that you have failed.  You are broken, and you are human.  In the undersanding that you have failings comes the acknowledgement that there is something that you were striving for.  That something is Christ, it is the kingdom of Heaven.  In the knowledge of your failing comes the surety that you are at least on the right path.

Failures are part of our learning process. Like a diamond  there are many facets to that failure.  It was a failure, and maybe that failure if you look at it had many points where challenges could have been changed, or places where you could have done something diffent, said something different or in a different way.

In the technical world this is called a root-cause analysis.  Taking our failures and analyzing what happened, why it happened and then setting things up so that they dont happen, or at least we are prepared when they do.

Then back to the goal at hand.  We return to God with our broken-ness and ask for forgiveness, and resolve to do better.
The good thing is that even our smaller daily failures and even in some of our bigger failures you even have the chance to go back, and still be the face of Christ to the others where you failed.

You can go back and seek forgiveness, or resolution, or peace, and show the love of Christ.  Even if there is no opportunity there to go back and change or mitigate, or seek the resolution directly, there is an opportunity for us to show Christ to others in how it is that we move forward.  Learning from the processes that we went through.

Each day presents new challenges, and opportunities.    We return to the Gospel, we return to prayer, we return to God.

” By their fruits you will know them”  (Matthew 7:16)  In this way we can preach the word of God at all times.. and when necessary use words.
May God give you the gift of His peace !

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