“MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU, FOR MY POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS.” -2 Corinthians 12:9.. (2 Corinthians 12: 1-10)
In our world today, we witness a distorted image of what real strength is. Physical strength seems to predominate our ideas of being strong in all areas of life. It is true that we need to be healthy and strong, however, when life throws us a curveball, we often find that weakness becomes our reaction.
A.W.Tozer once remarked: “God is looking for people through whom
He can do the impossible. What a pity that we plan only the things
we can do by ourselves.”
When we think of God’s power, what comes to mind?
Greatness – His awesomeness or how big and powerful He is and in comparison how weak and puny we are. Perhaps our picture of God is impersonal, a God who made the universe and sat back and allowed life to go on without any interference. Or perhaps, God is someone intimately connected to our lives who wants to guide and direct our daily living. In any case, God is depicted in the Bible as having power to accomplish whatever is needed. Where do we turn in times of weakness when we feel unable to meet life head-on?
“One New Year’s Day, in the Tournament of Roses parade, a beautiful float suddenly sputtered and quit, it was out of gas, the whole parade was held up until someone could get a can of gas to the float. The amusing thing was this float represented the Standard Oil Company. With its vast oil resources its truck was out of gas. Even though Christians have access to God’s omnipotence, if we do not avail ourselves to it we will run out of power.” -Lee McGlone
Paul the Apostle was beginning to boast in 2 Corinthians 12 to defend himself against his opponents. He then refers to himself as “a man in Christ” who was taken up to heaven to receive divine revelations. God will give special revelations in time of need to those to whom He is speaking. (e.g. Paul’s revelation on the road to Damascus, Acts chapter 9).
Even though Paul had supernatural experiences he still wanted people to judge him by his character. We know that experiences come go but, “actions speak louder than words.” Paul found his identity in Jesus Christ, and he desired to have Christ develop his character, or who he really would become in all situations.
Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh” (vs.7), primarily to keep him from PRIDE, or “getting a big head”. A thorn means trouble, pain sufferings, humiliation, physical infirmities, but not temptation to sin! God does not give that! There is no real identity of “the thorn”, so it keeps us from pointing to just one thing in our lives. Thorns can be many things that make us weak, defeat us, and suppress our lives in Christ. Thorns keep us nailed to earth so experiences don’t cause us to fly off! They remind us always to WHOM we belong! Our variety of experiences- spiritual and otherwise- can lead us to become conceited.
When we begin to take credit that belongs in praise and thanksgiving to God, pride moves into our lives! Think about this: brokenness, humility, and dependence are all aspects of our surrender to Him and victory in Christ. Conceit of knowledge, experience, education, money, along with numerous other actions can lead to spiritual pride. God refused to remove Paul’s thorn in the flesh in spite of his prayers. (vs.8,9)
So often when God answers a sincere prayer by refusal, He has something better in store for us! God’s grace rests on believers who call on Him! When we accept our weaknesses and difficulties, for the sake of the Gospel, we find that His grace is sufficient!
Charles Spurgeon once said: “Without the Spirit of God, we
can do nothing. We are as ships without the wind, branches
without sap, and like coals without fire, we are useless.”
Paul asked God three times to remove his thorn in the flesh, and God replied, in the words of Jesus, ” My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God’s grace is already paid for. It is available to those who believe, every moment of every day! God wants to demonstrate His power in the midst of our crises, He wants to highlight what “He can do”, instead of “what we can do. “The glory belongs to God the Creator not to man the creation! The real test of our faith comes when we have great trials or needs, not when all is going well. Verse 10, 1 Cor. 12, “For when
I am weak, then I am strong.” His power is made perfect in my weakness! (vs.9) Paul makes it clear, of all the things he could brag or boast about, he needed to boast only in Jesus Christ. He knew that we have no real power within ourselves, except for Christ in us. He refers us to Philippians 2:4-7 where he instructs us to take on the humility of Jesus Christ, who in great weakness, died for us on the Cross of Calvary, all so that we would know that His grace is sufficient, and His power is perfect!
We are encouraged to depend on the Holy Spirit for the ability to travel this road of life, no matter how many curves, bumps, and hardships may be along the way. When frustration and confusion flood our lives, when I do not know what to do or even think, when I am hurt by someone, or a loved one is ill or in need, or even when a situation makes no sense, whatever thorn may be; we must listen to the words of
Jesus, “MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU, FOR MY POWER
IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS.” The greater the weakness and trials for Jesus Christ, the greater the grace will be given. We must continue to draw near to Jesus, for strength and comfort. Focus on the word SUFFICIENT! His promise always works!
“When I am weak, and oh so weary
when the road ahead is long and dreary.
To my Lord, I cry for more grace
so what’s before me
I can bravely face.
When I’m anxious, feeling low and down
When my world comes crashing down
To my Lord, I cry for more power
to take me through every troubled hour
When I’m tested to my very limit
when afflicted in soul and spirit.
To my Lord, for more grace I cry…
for, He has all I need to help me get by!
(Christ in Poetry by Deborah Ann)
GRACE, STRENGTH, AND PEACE TO ALL- Pastor Ken