“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Do you ever feel like you don’t have what it takes? That you’re not enough? Overwhelmed?
I do. Paul did. You’re not alone. And it’s a good thing, not a bad thing. Here’s why.
A little background first. Paul was clearly the man when it came to the early church. He had all the credentials and all the connections. He was a Pharisee who was well schooled in the top shelf theology of the day, and he ran in the right circles. He was on his way to the top, but this upstart Jesus movement was in the way. He did everything he could to stamp it out until Jesus himself got ahold of him and redirected his whole life’s purpose.
God used Paul to write 28 percent of the New Testament and start more than 20 churches himself and countless more through his influence. His face would be on any Mount Rushmore of most important Christian leaders of all time. No debate.
Plus he had as much direct access to God as anyone in history. He had visions and revelations from the Lord that were only for his eyes only. But he was no stranger to hardship, conflict, and rejection. In what we know as 2 Corinthians, Paul writes a letter to a church where many were ashamed of him, the one who had actually started their church. He wasn’t rich enough or eloquent enough for some. They had tired of Paul and were following the “super apostles” who were more telegenic and impressive. Can you imagine that?
Paul also had a “thorn in the flesh.” Nobody knows for sure what this was. Perhaps it was some type of physical, mental, or spiritual affliction. Theories range from a chronic eye problem or a speech impediment to an actual person who was tormenting him. Whatever the case, Paul prayed three times to have this painful “thorn” removed.
Paul prayed. Each time God said, “No.” But why?
“My grace is sufficient for you” the Lord says. “My power is made perfect in your weakness.”
Those must have been hard words for Paul to hear then. Those words are hard to hear for you and for me today. What do they really mean?
Jesus himself said it this way, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” Or as Eugene Peterson paraphrases it, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”
When you realize that you don’t have what it takes, you allow room for God to work. When you think you have it all under control, God will usually let you drive. He will let you take the wheel for a while. If you manage to stay on the road for a while, it’s easy to think, “I’m a really good driver! God, I’ll give you a call when I get in some trouble. But for now, I’m good.”
Paul might say it this way, “God has given me a rattle in the front end of my car, a crack in my windshield, or a leak in my gas tank to remind me that the car I’m driving won’t get me where I need to go. If I don’t stop and get some help, I’ll end up in ditch or run out of gas.”
Now, God is so much more than the “Great AAA in the Sky.”
You can live that way and only call God when you’re stuck on the side of the road and need some help, or you can go to your mechanic before you start your trip and fill up your tank along the way.
No car can run forever on its own. It wasn’t designed to. You weren’t either.
How do you see your weaknesses, challenges, and pain?
Lord, help me to run to you not away from you in my weakness.
Read 2 Corinthians 12.