The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


God’s surprises

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). 

In December, I attended a small group retreat during which we looked at the work of professor Brené Brown on shame and vulnerability. Her research shows that human beings are hardwired for relationships and connectivity. Shame, which is present in all of us, is basically the fear of being disconnected. It affects us when we send ourselves messages that we’re not worthy of being connected or that somehow our being connected to another is conditional. 


What can help us when we’re dwelling in shame is to get in touch with our vulnerability and the uncertainty of our life and to share that part of ourselves with those whom we trust. Sounds a bit upside down, doesn’t it? As it turns out, there is strength in vulnerability. Creativity dwells there too.

Paul tells us just this very thing in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. God turns human wisdom and discernment topsy-turvy and uses them in ways that are typically unexpected. The cross, a vicious tool of death, became the very seat of salvation and eternal life. Who saw that coming?

Human wisdom always falls short of God’s wisdom because God doesn’t come in the ways we think God should come. God comes in the surprises. God comes in vulnerability and weakness to connect us to the Divine Self and to each other in ways we could never have imagined. 

As we continue our journey through the time after Epiphany and toward Ash Wednesday and Lent, let us remember that when it comes to God’s revelations in our lives we are the receivers, not the doers. All we need to do is pay attention and be prepared to be surprised.


Print subscribers and supporting Web members may comment.

Log in or Subscribe to comment.

text size:

this page: email | print

February issue


Embracing diversity