Scripture Reading: “Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, 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.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
In 1990, I was still a new Christian, and several people I knew in the church I was attending at the time gave their testimonies. One of them was a middle-aged woman that appeared to be in good health, so I was taken back when she told us about the time when her doctor told her that she had cancer. Having heard a few testimonies already over the preceding weeks, I immediately thought to myself, “Oh, oh. Here comes the ‘Lord. please take this cancer away’ statement.” But, to my shame and her credit, that’s not what she said.
Her first thought was “Lord, help me to not stop loving you.” This totally caught me off-guard and really got my attention. In this one sentence, she had told an incredible God story! This one line captured her willingness to accept that she was weak; that she was susceptible to negative thoughts towards God, to unfaithfulness, and to selfishness. It also demonstrated her faithfulness, trust, love and obedience to Him. All those sentiments expressed in that one sentence!
That was many years ago, and I honestly don’t remember much of her testimony anymore except that she said that she was cancer-free. But, I do remember the God story in her life. It had a profound effect on me at the time, and it still does today as I sometimes use this line when I prayer.
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he boasts about God and talks about the thorn in his flesh and how he pleaded with God to take it away. God’s response, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” puts an end to Paul’s pleading, but, more importantly, it becomes Paul’s one sentence God story. The thorn in his flesh was not the primary focus of his life, just like the woman’s cancer was not the primary focus of her life. The primary focus of their stories was about God! His grace, His mercy, His love, and His faithfulness. And it was all expressed in one sentence.
I’ve occasionally been known to deliver a clever one-liner just for fun, but one-liners are not limited to humour. Our God stories, our testimonies, can often be summed up in just one sentence, easy enough for someone else to remember and use as encouragement and inspiration for their lives.
In 2024, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.