Sometimes the events of several days create an avalanche as we continue through the week. I started the weekend attending the funeral for the mother of a friend. On Saturday I performed a wedding for two wonderful young people who are passionately in love. Sunday was a vacation day from the church and I visited two churches in New York as a learning experience. On Tuesday I stood with a family in the hospital as they saw their beloved daughter, sister and wife leave this world at an early age. In between, there were counseling sessions with sick people, marriage problems and committee meetings.
As I was driving home on Tuesday evening, this verse, written by the Apostle Paul, many millennia ago, kept coming back to me. “And who is sufficient for a task like this?” (2 Cor. 2:16b) In the context of that chapter Paul is describing the Christian ministry. He writes that as ministers of the gospel we are the distributors of life and death. The acceptance of the gospel brings life and the refusal of the gospel brings death.
Later on, he adds another concept – this life is distributed through broken vessels so that the people will not be enamored with the beauty of the vessel, but with the content that is within that vessel.
In fact, as one looks at Paul’s description, the vessel is very close to disintegration. It can become shreds at any moment. It is kept together because God is keeping it from being totally broken.
In Paul’s days, he was compared with Apollos. The Corinthians would say,
“If you really want to hear a good preacher, to hear one of the best Christian orators, you would come to visit us when Apollos comes to town.” Conversely, Paul agreed with the people’s view that when he preached, there was nothing spectacular about it. However, Paul would rather hear people say, “God has touched me through the ministry of Paul,” than to hear people say, “I was touched by brother Paul and I became well”. Paul was aware of his insufficiency, of his shortcomings and because of that he always depended on the filling of God.
Statistics of job satisfaction places ministers at a high level. The rollercoaster of life cannot be met strictly with human power and intuition. We can rejoice at weddings because God has promised to journey with couples that covenant before him to love one another with His love. We can listen to the sick because God is the Great Healer. We can hold the hands of the ones who are losing their loved ones to death because we know that death does not have the last word. The last word belongs to Him who said, “Behold I was dead and now I am alive forever more.”
It is in these situations that we can humbly say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The sufficiency is not in us, but in Christ.