The Myth of Simplicity - Part 2
- Thursday, July 30, 2009
The myth of simplicity suggests that there should be simple answers, but there are no simple answers. Any wise person will confess that they have come by their wisdom—the hard way. Simple answers are rarely worthy of trust but quickly spoil and rot.
Life is lived in a fallen world among fallen people. We valiantly strive to submit as the Spirit works in us. We diligently press toward our goal of being conformed to the likeness of Christ and we fail—continually (Rom. 8:29). We do our best but fail. We strive but stumble. Our relationships exemplify this.
We live in a world of brokenness where there are no easy answers—no simple solutions. Though our hearts crave the explainable there is much that is inexplicable, much that is beyond our ability to categorize or label.
The myth of simplicity arises because, aside from the methods and easy answers, we are faced with the notion of faith in an unseen God who makes statements such as, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9). We seek easy answers and sure methods because not only could this God not change our circumstances, He may also offer no answer save, “My grace is sufficient for you.” That is hardly what we want to hear.
What our hearts crave is a lifetime relationship that falls like manna from God’s heaven. We long for the blessing that eases the pain of loneliness and we feel the longing as a thorn in our side. Without apology we come on hands and knees to ask for our daily bread—and more. Too often we are fed the sweet but useless fluff of easy answers.
Whatever Paul’s thorn, he was compelled to pleaded with the Lord three times. Yet the sufficiency of God’s grace did not include the removal of the thorn. Paul wrote:
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:7-9).
I suspect that none of us is single due to the “surpassingly great revelations” given us so we can dispense with that easy answer. In fact, our desire for answers is in part driven by the idea that singleness is something “inflicted” on us. This too we can put off for the betterment of our minds. It seems to me we were born single. It seems to me Christ was single. Singleness is a state, a stage, or at least, a place to be.
But after we have tried the methods, schemes, steps, and principles it is difficult not to conclude that singleness is some kind of curse or punishment. After all, what kind of fools must we be to have tried so hard and still failed? How can we but conclude that God cares nothing for us after our prayers have gone unanswered?
Yet we see Paul praying diligently for his circumstance to change, for curse to turn to blessing, for something better to come his way. “Three times,” he wrote, “I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” (2 Cor. 12:8). In the end the thorn remained. In fact, he was given no promise of the future but rather assurance in the midst of his pain.
- In God’s short statement to Paul comfort is not found in the word sufficient.
- In God’s short statement to Paul comfort is not found in the word power.
- In God’s short statement to Paul comfort is not found in the word perfect.
And there is certainly no comfort in the word weakness.
Comfort is found in the words “my grace” placed in light of the word “weakness.” Since Paul (we) is (are) weak, God offers the broken apostle this assurance: “Today, you have what you need and I have provided it.” It is not that tomorrow is without hope. Tomorrow is full of hope. But tomorrow’s promise is as yesterday and today “grace”, or better, “My grace.”
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