Year B, Sixth after Pentecost, reading for July 4th, 2021: 2 Corinthians 12:2-10

I think this a foundational paradox of our faith. God uses weak people, broken people, and imperfect people to bring God’s kingdom to earth. Sure, we have stories of heroism and conquest in the bible, but we also have Jesus. Before we could get to the resurrection, he had to endure the weakness of his humanity right up to the moment of death.

Our weaknesses and faults give God room to work miracles in our lives. When it seems like we just can’t go on, when it seems that the odds are impossible; that’s when grace does God’s work. Grace doesn’t save us from pain, but it gives us endurance and perspective when we need it most. God uses our imperfections not just to move our own lives in unexpected ways, but also to help others.

Jory John has a knack for capturing the nuances of childhood, and I’m sure I’ll be featuring other books of his here. Giraffe Problems starts with a Edward the giraffe explaining how awful it is to have a neck like his. Too bendy, too narrow, too stretchy, too lofty… too necky! Everyone stares, and he can’t even hide it behind trees or disguise it with scarves. I think we can all relate. I mean, I have the most unruly head of hair you’ve ever seen, and I’m sure you have a physical characteristic or personality trait that you just CAN’T stand! We’ve all been there.

But.

Edward meets Cyrus, a turtle similarly disappointed with his neck. Cyrus’ neck problems have left him hungry and frustrated, staring up at a banana for a week as it ripens on the tree. It turns out Edward’s bendy, narrow, stretchy, lofty, necky neck is just perfect for helping his hungry new friend. Edward’s neck is still too long, and Cyrus’ is still too short. But grace brings the two together in a way that helps them both.

I would like to mention that no one came up to Edward and said “God has a plan for your neck,” and no one told Cyrus “there’s a reason for everything, even your hunger.” Statements like that are cruel, and I wish they would be abandoned. I know we mean them to be encouraging, but despite what I believe about God using our pain for greater purposes, when someone is hurting, these sentiments don’t help. If your friend is in pain, sweep their floor and make them a meal instead of pointing to a future in which their suffering makes sense.

Questions to ask before you read:

  • What don’t you like about yourself?
  • Do you try to hide that characteristic?
  • Do you think everyone has something about themselves they don’t like?

Questions to ask after you read:

  • Edward helped Cyrus get a banana. Did Cyrus help Edward?
  • Did God give Edward a long neck just so he could help Edward?
  • How might God use the things you don’t like about yourself?

Thanks for dropping by! I hope Giraffe Problems makes children’s ministry a little easier for you and more engaging for your little ones! Storybook Ministry is reader supported, so please share this post with others and if you can, consider supporting the blog at Patreon.

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