“I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,[a] a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
We understand ourselves, all people, and the creation itself to be broken. Brokenness refers to our departure from the created order of innocence and glory, which has resulted in the ravages of spiritual selfishness, physical weakness and decay, and the compounding of those painful realities in the context of relationships. Therefore, we must depend all the more fervently on the forgiveness and transformation that were purchased by the cross of Jesus Christ.
1. There is a pathway to the blessedness that is found in brokenness.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:3-6
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
“He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.” Psalm 62:2
2. Functional gods of our day can keep us from the blessedness of brokenness. (A function of god is a system - individual or group - that we place our ultimate allegiance in, as compared to the living God who is triune in his glory).
Some of our culture’s functional gods:
ANSWER KEY: Success, Personal appearance, Health
“We undertake all things as if we were establishing immortality for ourselves on earth. If we see a dead body, we may philosophize briefly about the fleeting nature of life, but the moment we turn away from the sight the thought of our own perpetuity (a restriction making an estate inalienable perpetually or for a period beyond certain limits fixed by law) remains fixed in our minds.” John Calvin (1606-1664)
3. A denial of 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” can lead us to dishonesty (“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” -The Wizard of Oz) and to diminished/deescalated/biblically curtailed living.
4. No one prays for “thorns in the flesh...to keep me from being conceited” (v.7) but we realize a wise and loving Abba Father loves his children so much that…
The ultimate reality in the path of brokenness is the strong understanding that God is for his people. (Psalm 56:9-10, Romans 8:32)
1. What is the path of the blessedness of brokenness? How was that accomplished? Why is walking this path made more difficult by the comfort, joys, and entertainment of 2021 (with the U.S. holding a very high ranking in the United Nations’ latest Human Development Index)?
2. How do we daily live out the blessedness of brokenness?
3. What are the functional gods of our culture?
4. How do we say with the Wizard of Oz, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”?
5. What is the ultimate reality in the life of a child of God who has been purchased by the blood of the cross?
How will you live out brokenness this week?