Having a Chronic Illness does not make for an easy life. In fact, it is very easy to get discouraged or to feel that God has abandoned you. In last Sunday’s post, 20 Bible Verses to Provide Encouragement, I listed some of my favorite encouraging verses. Today I want to talk about one of God’s Promises to us, that His grace is sufficient.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~ NIV
Break It Down
The first part of this verse is telling us that God will help us through our troubles (weaknesses). It is also saying that we are made better because of these “weaknesses”. God uses our weak moments to help us to grow closer to Him. He also uses these times to teach us how to rely on Him during hard times. We are not alone in our hard times and we are strengthened by His grace.
Why is God’s Grace is Sufficient?
God is saying, in this verse, that he has enough grace to carry us through the storms of our lives. He is assuring us that He will not let go of us. That is what His grace is and it is more than enough to meet any challenge. Once we admit that we are weak, God is there, willing and more than able to carry us through the hard times.
It is important to know that God is telling this to Paul. At this time, God had given Paul a thorn in his flesh and Paul begged God to remove it 3 times. The verse of 2 Corinthians 12:9 was God’s answer to Paul.
The Bible does not tell us what Paul’s thorn was and I feel that is for good reason. I think it is because this answer doesn’t just suit this one “thorn” but all things that would cause us trouble. Whether it be financial hardship, sickness or problems on the job, God’s Grace is sufficient to carry us through. That is God’s perfect answer.
The Purpose Behind God’s Response to Paul
Paul expected God to remove his thorn when he asked Him to remove it. I am sure that Paul did not understand why God did not answer. But God did have a response to Paul’s requests, it was just not the response that Paul expected.
God’s response let Paul know that He needed him to carry this burden but God did not leave him to do it alone. Instead of removing the thorn from Paul’s life, God gave and would keep giving His grace to Paul.
Paul was desperate to find relief from this thorn, but there are two ways of relief. It can come by removing the load or by strengthening the shoulder that bears the load. Instead of taking away the thorn, God strengthened Paul under it. God would show His strength through Paul’s apparent weakness.
How Does this Work?
For this to work, Paul had to believe that God’s grace is sufficient. We really don’t believe God’s grace is sufficient until we believe we are insufficient. We are taught to be people of self reliance and ingenuity. But we can’t receive God’s strength until we know we have weakness. We can’t receive the sufficiency of God’s grace until we know our imperfections.
Great tribulation brings out the great strength of God. If you never feel inward conflicts and sinking of soul, you do not know much of the upholding power of God; but if you go down, down, into the depths of soul-anguish till the deep threatens to shut her mouth upon you, and then the Lord rides upon a cherub and does fly, yea, rides upon the wings of the wind and delivers your soul, and catches you away to the third heaven of delight, then you perceive the majesty of divine grace. Oh, there must be the weakness of man, felt, recognized, and mourned over, or else the strength of the Son of God will never be perfected in us.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
Grace could meet Paul’s need because it expresses God’s acceptance and pleasure in him. When Paul receive His grace, he enjoyed status of favor and approval in God’s eyes.
“My grace is sufficient for you.” It is sufficient right now. Not that it will be some day, but right now, at this moment, His grace is sufficient. You thought something had to change before His grace would be enough. It is sufficient right now!
The Promise of God’s Grace
God is talking to Paul when he says “My grace is sufficient for you”. He used the word, you and did not direct it to Paul! I am glad that He didn’t say, “My grace is sufficient for Paul”. Because it just says the word, “you”, we can know that this is a promise that God is making to all of us!
Reliant on God
The next part of the verse explains what happens when you accept God’s grace. Through his weakness, God made Paul dependent on His grace and on His strength. Paul’s continued – even forced – dependence upon God made him stronger than he would have ever been if he had denied God’s grace and become bitter.
Many of us think that the goal is to reach a point in our Christianity where we don’t need to rely on God as much. The exact opposite is true! The longer we walk with God, the more we should rely on Him as our source of strength. God wants us to be reliant upon Him in our daily lives because He wants to carry the burden for us.
The last verse in this section says, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” and that is exactly how I feel. On days when I feel my weakest, if I go to God and ask Him to help me, I feel stronger. It sounds so simplistic but it is true. It doesn’t take my pain away, much like Paul’s thorn, but His Grace is sufficient to help me through my times of hardship.