There’s a Prudential commercial on TV that draws my attention every time. It asks people to put magnets on a wall. On the left are things that have happened to them in the past. On the right are things that they expect will happen to them in the future. Good things are written on yellow magnets; bad things on blue. The wall on the left (the past) was pretty evenly colored with yellow and blue magnets. The wall on the right was colored with mostly yellow (good) magnets. It showed that people expect the best for their future, even though the past suggests there will likely be an even blend of good and bad things in people’s lives.
It makes me reflect on how I view my own life – the good, the bad, the past, the future. I think it’s true that while I think my future looks bright, if I look to the past there is a mixture of good and bad. So what does this mean for me? On the one hand, it makes me aware that there will be bad things in my future, so I can make plans to minimize the negative impact on my life. On the other hand, I can’t live my life in fear – if I do, then I am squandering the present.
Paul knew that his life was filled not only with things to boast about, but also things he was not proud of. But he also knew that those weaknesses were opportunities for God to make God’s self known in his life. What a great reminder that in those bad times we can open ourselves to God’s presence. We can empty ourselves and make space for God to work and live within us and through us. I don’t need to fear the future or move into the future blindly because I know that no matter what happens, God will be there.
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a person 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 such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.