Sometimes we’ve given grace to fight; other times we’re given grace to rest.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 is a well-known verse, but the phrases that come before and after it aren’t often quoted with this part of the verse. Paul was telling the Corinthian believers about an experience he’d had years earlier in which God had shown him things that he didn’t understand well. He wasn’t even sure whether or not the experience had literally happened or if it had been a vision. What he did know was that it was a great revelation from God. After this experience, he received what he calls “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”
Then he says, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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 the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I am impacted by the fact that God chose not to fix something that was difficult for Paul, because He wanted Paul to understand that there was a better way in this particular situation in his life.
God could have taken away the “thorn in Paul’s flesh” whatever that was, but He wanted Paul to discover the strength that he could have in this part of his life simply by resting in God’s power rather than his own comfort.
Resting in God’s strength made him stronger than not needing to rely on God. Resting in God’s strength took him further in his relationship with God.
I’m a lot like Paul. I want hard things gone, potential distractions removed, and thorns pulled. But obviously, sometimes annoying things aren’t moved for the sake of deepening my dependence on the One who holds everything together. Sometimes I’m stronger BECAUSE I’m incredibly weak.
Two Sides of Grace
There are 2 sides of grace like there are 2 sides to a coin, and they often feel like they oppose each other.
Jesus healed sick people all the time. He miraculously supplied food for hundreds of people, calmed storms that would have sunk boats, told Peter where to find the money they needed to pay their taxes. He did ALL those miracles and more, then He said to his disciples in John 14:12, “Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
God gives us grace to “do even greater things” than Jesus did.
But God also told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I believe that when God told Paul “No,” Paul accepted that answer and changed his perspective around the thorn he was dealing with. He recognized that it wasn’t a battle for him to fight, it was a catalyst to strengthen his dependence on God.
God also gives us grace to rest in His power in the middle of something uncomfortable.
We have things in our lives on the regular that are difficult, distracting, and threaten to take away our peace or our belief in the goodness of God. Sometimes those things are battles that we need to take on and take out in the name of Jesus! But sometimes God says, “No, my strength is enough for you. Rest in my strength, my presence. Keep your eyes on me.”
We’ve got to hear his voice on what is really going on in each difficult space of our lives. Hearing his voice will let us know whether to fight in his name or to rest in his grace.
Grace – it’s a guarantee that we will have it. Sometimes it’s grace to fight, but sometimes it’s grace to rest.