The revelatory influence of God’s Word never ceases to amaze me. No matter how much time I spend in the Word, no matter how well I believe I have anatomized a particular subject, God always seems to take me a little further each time I visit Him in His Word. When it comes to the power and sufficiency of His grace there is no exception.
As Christian believers, we will inevitably come to a place of trouble in our lives. Christ promised that there would be tribulations. He said that the world would hate us because it hated Him. Yet, He said that we should be of good cheer because he had already overcame the world (John 16:33). This means that the victory has already been one. The strategic victory has been established (Christ magnanimous work done at Calvary), and now the tactical victory must be executed (the believer’s victorious walk made available by the victory achieved by Christ at Calvary).
It is important to understand the multitudinous assets we have at our disposal. Because of our position in Christ we have the power to overcome any obstacle and conquer any enemy. God has designed each of us with a specific purpose in mind and He has empowered (anointed) us to fulfill our destinies. As Christians it is not our aim to circumvent life’s struggles because we understand that it is in the struggles that the power of God moves mightily on our behalf. It is in the weakness of pain that the power of God’s love restores us. So, any attempt at circumventing the vicissitudes of life is futile and reveals a level of spiritual immaturity. There are numerous text within the Bible that reveal this truth; none quite as powerfully and distinctly as 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
7And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn ([a]a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. [Job. 2:6.]
8Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me;
9But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may[c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!
10So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [[d]in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength). (2 Corinthians 122:7-10, AMP)
Here Paul informs the Corinthians about the “thorn” in his “flesh”. What exactly this thorn is has been the topic of much great debate among theologians for centuries. I will not endeavor to state my case on the matter because it does not have true bearing on the message. If it did, Paul would not have been as ambiguous in revealing it. What is important is Paul’s request for God to remove the thorn and God’s response.
One thing to take notice of here is the fact that Paul lists the reason that he has the thorn. Paul had received an abundance of revelation and with the natural exaltation that comes with a gift like that it would have been easy for Paul to get big-headed, so God allowed this thorn to exist to keep Paul grounded and dependent upon Him.
Paul says that he prayed three times. This is significant for two reasons. First, the multiple supplications reveals Paul’s intense desire to have the thorn removed; it was not simply a nuisance, but it was painful and a burdensome. Second, as powerful of a faith warrior as Paul was his will could not override the will of God. God is sovereign and his will is the final standard.
Paul, as we often do, sensed the intensity of the moment and immediately sought extraction from the pain, discomfort, and toil involved with his affliction. He wanted to be taken back to a place of comfort, but God’s response was both, powerful and succinct. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Let’s slow down for a moment so that we can take a good look at what is happening here. God is revealing the fact that there is not an autonomy, as for as man is concerned, outside of God. Man functions optimally under the power of God. God is saying to Paul, I will not take you out of the trial, but I will bring you through it. God is opening and bearing up the truth concerning His grace. We all see grace as simply the function through which God forgives our sins, but it is so much more. Grace represents everything that God is able to do on our behalf based on Christ’s magnanimous gift on Calvary. This includes the power he provides to live this Christian life in victory.
“My grace is sufficient” is one of the most powerful statements in the Bible. Some of you may feel that I am being melodramatic, but allow me a moment to point out a couple of things that validate my point. We know that this is a powerful statement first of all because God uses it as a “settle all” for Paul’s incessant prayers concerning his thorn. God did not go into a long doctrinal treatise to give Paul an explanation; He simply said, “My grace is sufficient….” In other words, the buck stops with grace. One of the most impactful words of this entire passage is one that almost always goes unnoticed; “IS”. “IS” is the 3rd person singular present indicative of “be”. The key grammatical designator is “present indicative”. Present means now and indicative indicates what. In simple God’s grace “is” sufficient, not shall be sufficient, but “is” sufficient. This means right now, you have all that is necessary to overcome everything that you encounter. Right now; not tomorrow, but you have the power to stand right now.
Let’s look at the word “sufficient” for a moment. The Greek word translated “sufficient” is
Apparently a primary verb (but probably akin to G142 through the idea of raising a barrier); properly to ward off, that is, (by implication) to avail (figuratively be satisfactory): – be content, be enough, suffice, be sufficient.
Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries G714
Sufficient means that everything that is required is supplied. There is nothing lacking in the grace of God. Allow me to state it this way; God does not supply your spiritual assets in installments; he has given you all the assets that are required and then some, but you must possess the faith to access them.
God supplements His declaration to Paul with a final declaration of power. “For my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul, in his ingenious elliptical writing style has boldly explained our pain in two verses of scripture. In verse 7 we find that our pain and afflictions stabilize us and prevent us from becoming haughty. In verse 9 we find that this same pain (weakness) allows the power of God to work mighty on our behalf; meaning that we can accomplish more in our state of acknowledged weakness through God’s power than we can at full strength in our own human strength. So, the very thing that humbles us also makes us strong. All I can say to that is “only God”.
What is Paul’s Conclusion to all of this?
“…Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may[c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!
10So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [[d]in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength).” (2 Cor. 12:9-10 AMP)
Paul is not saying that his pleasure is in the actual infirmities, but that there is pleasure and encouragement in what these infirmities and afflictions will produce. Paul understood that his greatest achievements would be accomplished under the pressure of affliction. He came to the knowledge that his pain activated God’s power. He understood that his weakness opened the door for something great to come in.
God wants you to know that there is nothing going on in our life that he is not aware of. He desires that you apprehend the fact that the very things that are hurting you right now will facilitate your greatness. Your weakness and inability to resolve the issue on your own opens the door for God to step in and perform all that he has promised. Know that all that you are dealing with at this moment is not beyond you because God has you in His care. Your pain and struggles may be bigger than you, but they are never too big for God. So when you traveling through the vicissitudes of life and it seems that things are simply getting worse, lift up your hands in praise because God’s grace is sufficient.
Bishop Rick Wallace