Only Grace

2 Corinthians 12:8-9
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Life is full of problems, trials, struggles of various kinds.  We talk about God working and His power to heal and to fix and to do the impossible.  But He doesn’t always heal or fix or do what we want Him to do.  So we fall back on this—His grace is sufficient.  His grace will get us through.  But sometimes it seems like we don’t really want God’s grace; we just want to be rid of our problem.

Paul was in that boat, he and his infamous thorn that he begged God to take away not once, but three times.  The great Apostle Paul was in that desperate place we so often get to of, “Lord, just please take this away from me.”  But Jesus tells Paul that His grace is enough.  And He’s not telling Paul to just deal with it and stop whining about it.  But He wants to show Paul something amazing, because there is power in His grace that is bigger than what would have been revealed had He just taken that thorn away and been done with it.

That kind of healing would have been a one-time moment of grace that Paul might have looked back on fondly from time to time.  But this grace Jesus was offering now is a sustaining grace, a continual grace, an abiding grace.  It was a way for Paul to be reminded moment by moment just whose strength he had to depend on.  Every time that thorn throbbed or made him sore, made him weary, made him discouraged, it was an opportunity for him to recognize that Jesus was with him and to experience His power anew.

That changed Paul’s whole perspective on infirmities—weaknesses, sicknesses, faults, struggles, and failures—to the point where he is rejoicing in them.  And it’s not because he likes to suffer, but because in those places where he has nothing, Christ gives everything.  Really, our infirmities are just opportunities for us to have the continual grace of Jesus upon us.  And isn’t that better than just being rid of every little thorn in life?  From the outside looking in, we may say, “No, just take it from me.”  But in the midst of it, when His grace is really upon us in those weaknesses, we’re left, like Paul, in wonder of what we have in Christ.  There we can understand that what we have in Him is enough, and often that is best realized in our absolute weakest places.

2 thoughts on “Only Grace

  1. “And it’s not because he likes to suffer, but because in those places where he has nothing, Christ gives everything.” I agree. Suffering is not fun, but it is essential if we are to learn faith. The very design is to bring us to the end ourselves, as Paul discovered, so that we can fully, and totally, lean on the grace of God. This is not an easy process. It is only when we are broken that we fully understand we are nothing apart from Him.

    Good post!

    Homer Les


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