2 Cor 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." NIV
Though this verse is very familiar to most Christians, I wonder how many of us truly grasp its’ significance? God’s grace is a huge subject, with many different aspects and applications. The application here is one we should not miss.
In the context, Paul is explaining to the Corinthians that he was tormented by some ailment (“thorn in the flesh”). Many have speculated on what the ailment was, even whether it was physical or emotional, but that is not the important issue.
What is important is to get a glimpse of how God’s grace works in our lives. Notice that Paul did not just accept this “thorn.” He prayed three times for God to take it away. That is important for us to note, because God wants us to pray and ask for all that we desire in our hearts. James tells us that sometimes we don’t have what we want simply because we just don’t ask (Ja 4:2). That indicates that sometimes God is waiting for us to ask in faith for what we desire before He acts. Would you read that again, please? That truth should have a huge impact on our prayer life!
Another aspect of God’s grace that we learn from this, is that sometimes the answer to our prayer is no. If it is, there is a good reason for that answer. In this case, Paul says that God’s reason for not granting his request is to keep him from becoming conceited. Since Paul himself wrote that love (agape) is not arrogant or does not brag (1Cor 13), then God is certainly being gracious to Paul. We may not always know why God doesn’t give us the answer we desire, but by looking at this example, we can be sure that His purposes are good.
The next thing we see about God’s grace here, is that it brings Him glory. Paul says that God’s power is made perfect in Paul’s weakness. For all of you that have not experienced the physical healing you may have been asking for, would you consider that God might want to glorify himself in your weakness? I know that it might be difficult to see it that way, especially when your ailment is very severe. I would even suggest that you continue to pray for healing up to a point. What point? The point at which God speaks to you, as He did to Paul, and let’s you know that He will receive glory for demonstrating power in your weakness.
The most important concept in this passage is the assurance that His grace is sufficient, always. No matter what ailment, trouble, weakness or persecution (v10) we may face, God’s ultimate grace has already been given to us. We have been saved from His wrath, delivered from the bondage of sin and placed in His eternal kingdom by that marvelous grace! His grace has made us His children, heirs to his riches in glory (Ro 8:17). Titus 3:7 puts it this way, “so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
If you are a believer in Christ, no matter what your situation, you can say along with Paul, “God’s grace is completely sufficient for me!” When you truly take hold of this truth, you might surprise yourself by agreeing with Paul, that you can actually delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties because you can boast in His power, not yours. 2 Cor 12:10 “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Praise God for His strength being perfected in our weakness!
God bless you