The Second Half of 'My Grace Is Sufficient' We Keep Forgetting
- Josie Siler Contributing Writer
- 2021 13 Jul
What if, on a really hard day when everything is going wrong and you feel just awful, a friend cheered for you. “You feel weak? they ask. “That’s awesome!” Is it? Is it really? Well, yeah, it could be. After you get over the initial shock of their perceived insensitivity, you realize their cheering is actually biblical. What you see as a weakness, they see as an opportunity for Jesus Christ’s power to be made perfect in weakness.
The truth is, we’re all weak in our own way. Maybe we’re physically weak due to a chronic illness. Maybe we’re emotionally weak or struggle with our mental health. Perhaps we’re just plain exhausted by the busyness of life and feel weak in every way. Whatever type of weakness we experience, it’s not fun. I don’t think any of us would choose to feel weak, but what if we allow Christ’s power to be made perfect in the midst of our weakness and exchange our weakness for His strength? Well now, that doesn’t sound so bad after all. Maybe our overzealous friend is on to something.
What Does 'Made Perfect in Weakness' Mean?
Made perfect in weakness means we gain by letting go. We become more by trying less. Our strength comes through surrender to and unity with Jesus Christ. As Matthew Henry states in his commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:9, it’s “a Christian paradox: when we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It’s confusing, I know. On an earthly level, it doesn’t make sense, but on a spiritual level, it makes perfect sense. When we are strong in ourselves, we don’t often feel a need for the Lord. We think we have it all together and don’t need any help. It’s a false sense of security, a false strength. Eventually, our own strength will faith us, and then what? Then we’re ready. Ready for what? Not a what, a Who. We’re ready for Jesus.
When we come to the end of ourselves and our own strength, we’re finally ready for Jesus’ power and strength to take over. John Gill’s Exploration of the Bible reveals, “that the strength of Christ … shines forth in its perfection and glory, in supplying, supporting, and strengthening his people under all their weakness; and if they were not left to some weaknesses in themselves, his strength would not be so manifest.”
The bottom line is the strength of Jesus Christ can’t be experienced in our lives unless we have an area of weakness. However, where we’re weak the power of Christ shines in our lives, filling us with more strength than we could ever muster up on our own.
How Can Christians Misinterpret 'My Grace Is Sufficient for You'
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the words, “My grace is sufficient for you” I sigh in relief. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed enough. If that’s all we ever get, it’s enough. However, it’s easy to misinterpret this phrase. It’s easy to think it means we won’t suffer anymore. We want to believe it means life will be easier, but that just isn’t the case. As Tessa Emily Hall writes, “It is impossible for us to conquer anything apart from God’s sufficient grace.” This quote reminds me that we will continue to experience things in life that need conquering.
We can still experience great trials and hardships in life, but we don’t experience them without hope—or help! Our Lord’s grace is sufficient for us, but what does that mean? The context of these words is so important. Let’s take a look at what was happening in 2 Corinthians 12:9.
What Is the Context of 2 Corinthians 12:9?
The Book of 2 Corinthians was written by the Apostle Paul. Paul experienced some incredible spiritual gifts in his life, along with incredible hardships. Chapter 12 starts out with Paul telling about a man he knew who was taken to paradise where he heard incredible things that no one is allowed to tell. Scholars agree that Paul is talking about himself here. He is the one who was given a glimpse of heaven. Paul reveals his uncertainty about how it all happened, whether he was physically taken there or saw a vision. It doesn’t really matter, what matters is the incredible things he saw that he wasn’t allowed to talk about.
Paul goes on to say that he has every right to boast because he would be speaking the truth, but he won’t do it. He will only speak of his weaknesses. Paul is onto something here. Nobody likes a braggart. In his wisdom and God’s grace, he chooses not to boast, but to remain humble so that people won’t think more of him than is warranted. God gives him a little help in the area of humility.
Paul tells us that in order to keep from becoming conceited, he’s given a thorn in his flesh. He describes this as a messenger from Satan who is sent to torment him. We don’t know exactly what this thorn in the flesh was. Many believe it was a physical ailment, however, we just don’t know. I like what Hope Bolinger says about Paul’s thorn. Bolinger writes, “because Paul had a number of revelations and visions, that could cause some Christians to be jealous of these epiphanies, his thorn in his side brings him back to earth.”
Whatever this thorn was, Paul pleaded with the Lord to take it away three different times. Did the Lord do it? In His grace, no. Satan may have been the one to afflict Paul, but God allowed the affliction to keep Paul from becoming a conceited braggart after the incredible things he saw. It’s hard to be told no, isn’t it? How did Paul take that answer? We find out in our key verse.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) 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.” The Lord’s grace was sufficient for Paul and His power was made perfect in Paul’s weakness. Paul saw this as a gift. He doesn’t boast about what he saw in the heavenly realms, instead, he boasts about his weakness, which allowed the Lord’s power to rest on him. He understood that, as Stephen Altrogge writes, “God’s power is made perfect in weakness because it ensures that he alone gets all the glory.”
Paul goes even further when he writes these powerful words in 2 Corinthians 12:10. “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.” Wow! May we all have the humility, like Paul, to speak these words - and mean them!
5 Ways to Remember God's Power in Our Weakness
Paul exchanged his weakness for Lord’s strength and power. We can do the same. Here are five ways to remember God’s power in our weakness.
Pray. Sometimes all we have to do is ask. Ask God to help you remember His Word. Ask Him to show you His power. Ask Him to strengthen you when you feel weak.
Phone a friend. Or text, or email… you get the idea. When we’re feeling weak and weary, sometimes we need to talk to someone who can remind us of the ways God can work because of our weakness. We need to be reminded that when we’re weak, He’s strong. Hopefully in a more gentle way than our friend at the beginning of this article, but reminded nonetheless.
Keep a journal. Keeping a journal is great. It allows us to look back and see how God has worked in our lives in the past. It doesn’t have to be grand, even a short list of one or two ways we saw God work in our lives each day. It will bless us now, and it can encourage us down the road when we need a reminder of what God has done.
Get a tattoo. Okay, this one isn’t for everyone, but I had to include it! For many people, each tattoo has a story behind it. The person got it for a specific reason, to remember someone or something, or as a form of artistic expression. I can’t get a tattoo for health reasons, but if I could, I would get one that says, “joyful in hope” to remind me of one of my favorite verses (Romans 12:12). Maybe yours would say, “strength in weakness.” Will Honeycutt says, “think before you ink” and I agree. It’s a big decision. Read more here.
Write out verses as a reminder and put them places you will see them. Here are some of my favorites:
“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.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
“I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” 1 Corinthians 2:3-5
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”Ephesians 3:20-21
The Lord’s grace is sufficient for us because His power is made perfect in our weakness. Do you believe that? Will you exchange your weakness for the Lord’s strength today?
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes
Passionate about helping people find joy for their journey, Josie Siler, a small-town Wisconsin girl, has big dreams. As an award-winning author and photographer, Josie shares God’s gifts of beauty, hope, and adventure with people who are overwhelmed by life’s circumstances, encouraging them to walk in the freedom and joy found in Jesus. Josie’s debut picture book, Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw, releases with End Game Press in Spring 2022. Her photographs are published in the multi-award-winning book Advent Devotions and Christmas Crafts for Families. Josie’s a chronic illness warrior who believes every day is a gift that should be celebrated. When she’s not writing or taking pictures, you’ll find Josie looking for adventure, curled up with a good book, or cuddling her teddy bear dog Ruby Mae (a.k.a. The Scruffy Princess). Connect with Josie at JosieSiler.com.