2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
This is such a big verse in so many different ways. There are two ways that I want to address this today: 1) God’s grace, 2) Giving grace.
First, let’s talk about the amazing beauty of God’s grace. How great, how big, how wide, how far, how deep it goes to redeem us. Many scholars debate on what “thorn in the flesh” Paul was talking about when he wrote this, but what my focus is today is on the beauty that is God’s grace. In the midst of our pain, our struggles, our sufferings and all the attacks; God’s grace is sufficient. His grace covers so much that it covers all of our failures and mistakes. Even when we do not treat God, our greatest treasure, as a treasure, He still gives grace and loves us.
What amazes me, and encourages me, is that even the great Paul struggled. What is beautiful is that this man, who talks so much on grace, pleads for the grace of God. He needed relief from the pain and hurt he was feeling. Even though he took so much joy in God and even took joy in suffering, he still needed to be reminded that God loves and cares for him.
What I love is how Paul takes his hurt and starts to boast in what God does so that he may taste the pleasure of having Christ’s power rest on him. It is so hard for me when I am in the middle of a weakness, a hardship, a difficulty to praise God, yet Paul is delighting in it. He takes such delight that he gets to see how God is going to work in it and through it. He doesn’t run from it or cower, he stands strong. I recall when Job was in front of God and God tells him to “brace yourself like a man” (Job 40:7). While that is a different situation, I mention it because when we stand firm in God and delight in Him, we can stand up to all these hardships and persecutions because we know He is such a treasure. He is so good and so faithful. Even though the world and the attacks bring us down and beat us time and time again, God picks us up off the floor. He puts his arm around us. He tells us to lean on him. We are completely battered and beaten to an awful mess, yet when we call out to Him, he stands us up. We can stand firm on the mighty foundation of the Rock.
There are many days when I feel the evil one relentlessly attack me. My thoughts betray me. Everything gets twisted and distorted. It is just a bad day, yet that is when I need this verse the most. That is when I need to recall it the most. Because as awful as I have been, as bad as the thoughts were that went through me, as horrible as I have been, this is where I need to be reminded of the great grace of God. That He is making me strong. That He is there for me in this trial, this hurt and all this pain. His grace is sufficient and it covers the dirtiest of sins we confess and repent of.
These are the days I feel the worst and feel like I am so far from God. These are the days that wear on me and drag me down because it has been a battle all day. And I have been defeated so much. Yet, somehow He still loves me. He still cares for me. He still forgives me and calls me his son.
I praise God for that. I praise God that His grace is enough. And it always will be.
The other part I mention is giving grace. It has been interesting because the last few days my wife and I have been struggling with this with other people. Sometimes the hardest thing we have to do is to give grace, or in a worldly saying to give the benefit of the doubt. We are so quick to judge and condemn, like caged, hungry lions attacking its prey.
These past few days and weeks it has become a big lesson for us both. People seem to have a first response of attack when a mistake is made. Or even when there is no mistake, just to be mean or rude for no reason. Obviously, I am not in their shoes and don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. Also, I am not without guilt. All too often I do the very thing I mention. I am quick to judge, quick to get angry and slow to listen and speak. For some reason it seems that we have been at the receiving end of rudeness or insults. People not thinking before they send an email. People speaking before thinking. But it happens and I do this too.
Sometimes, I wonder if people heard the way they spoke to someone how they would take it. How would they take the correction that isn’t important? The unnecessary anger. The jab for no reason. The put down. How would they feel? How would I feel? Why is an encouraging word and even response so hard?
I was faced with this today and when I went back through this verse, God slapped me across the face with the “I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Particularly in an insult. As someone was rude to me for no reason, by the grace of God was grace. This is surprising since I am a hot tempered person. I get defensive and my usual response is not sprinkled with grace and salt but with venom and vengeance.
There are days when I am so tired, or hurting, or hungry and all too often I let my emotions rule me and my response. I don’t want to be led by my evil emotions, but by the love and grace of God. For when I am weak (tired, angry, hurt, hungry, stressed) that is when Satan attacks me so much. That is when the simplest comment that would otherwise not affect me gets blown out of proportion. That is where Satan keeps attacking and growing roots with this evil seed. And for some reason, I let him. I fight at times, or try to, but so often he beats me.
That is where I need this verse. That is where I need to give grace, to give the benefit of the doubt. Why do I need to make someone feel bad? We all make mistakes, why do I need to beat someone up over it.
God, I need your grace to give grace. I thank you for your grace. I thank you that when I am weak and not doing well, you lift me up. Encourage me. You give me hope and walk me through. I need your grace Oh Lord. I need your strength to receive your grace. I need your strength to call out for your grace. Focus me on you. Focus me on your heart. I want and need to be gracious. Help me Lord! Strengthen me Lord! I am weak. I am hurting. I need you. I need a Savior. I need your grace. God have mercy on me when I fail. Thank you that your grace is sufficient! Amen.