I. Grace Is Sufficient
II. Weakness Becomes Strength
2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a
messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to
take it away from me. 9 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. 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.
In the name of Jesus Christ, who is sufficient enough and strong enough to save
us, dear Christian friends,
It sure is difficult to know whom or what to believe these days. One doctor says
that a certain medicine will work for a cure to what ails you; another doctor says that
one won’t, but another medicine will! One newscaster reports the nation thinks like
this; another newscaster reports the nation thinks like that. One televangelist says God
wants you to be happy no matter what; another says if you are not happy, it means your
faith is not strong enough.
Whom or what are we to believe these days? As definitions are uncovered
today, can we believe that blessings are cursed and curses are blessed? Can we believe
what Jesus told us in today’s Gospel: “blessed are you who are poor...who hunger
now...who weep now...when men hate you, exclude you, insult you and reject your
name as evil” and “woe to you who are rich...are well fed now...laugh now...when all
men speak well of you”?
CAN WE REALLY BELIEVE THIS? Can we really believe what is before us in this
lesson today? I. Grace is sufficient and II. Weakness becomes strength.
When doctors give conflicting answers about medicine, maybe it is based on
their education, the guidance of their administration or the push of the company who
manufactures the product. When newscasters present their information, it might be
based on their own or their network’s political leanings. When televangelists present their message, it might be without consulting what God has to say or to appease what
itching ears want to hear.
When it comes to the definitions uncovered today, these are revealed by Jesus.
These are based on his education, which is second to none, in that, as true God, he has
perfect wisdom and knowledge. His definitions come directly from his administration—
his heavenly Father whom he serves fully and who does not lie (Nu 23:19). Jesus’
definitions are not swayed by a manufacturer’s influence, nor does he have political
leanings. Jesus’ definitions are not watered down or amended due to political
correctness or based on the whims of the current cultural climate.
So, can we really believe what Jesus has to say? Absolutely! Without a doubt!
100%! He is himself God and he does not and can not lie. He has earned our trust by
never failing us and by securing for us our forgiveness and salvation.
This is what Paul came to realize when he was suffering with his thorn in the
flesh. We don’t know what it was. Some have said it was poor eyesight (based on Gal
4:15) or another physical ailment. Others guess it was a spiritual harassment or some
persecution. Whatever it was, it was bothersome and worthy of repeated prayer to ask
God to take it away.
Paul makes it clear that he knew it was a result of sin, as he calls it a messenger
of Satan, to torment him. But he also knew God was in charge of it. He didn’t plead
with Satan to take it away; he pleaded with the Lord.
Paul turned to the Lord in prayer three times. Obviously, God did not answer
the first two times— at least not in the way Paul wanted— that is, to take the thorn in
the flesh away from him. In keeping with God’s instruction that we pray persistently,
Paul tries again and the third time receives an answer.
But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made
perfect in weakness.” What an answer! Maybe it was accompanied by a bright light
like happened at Paul’s conversion or maybe it was told him quietly in a dream, but in
whatever way, God made it clear to Paul that his grace was sufficient.
To re-word that, God’s undeserved love in Christ Jesus was enough. What God
did for us and for all through Jesus shows his love will go to the nth degree! Whatever
pain was caused by Paul’s thorn in his flesh, God would see him through it. Whatever
persecution Paul might face in the future, God’s protecting arms would surround him.
Whatever temptation Satan would place before Paul, God would provide strength to
overcome and forgiveness if Paul failed and sinned.
Could Paul really believe this? If he focused on his pain, he wouldn’t. If he
fixated on his thorn in the flesh, he would have concluded that God had let him down
and instead of grace, God was giving him grief.
Can we really believe this? Yes, God’s grace is sufficient for us, too! But, if we
focus on our illnesses and injuries, we will doubt and deny God’s promise.
Have you ever heard someone say, “God must be punishing me by giving me this
illness?” Have you yourself ever said or thought this? This thought comes from a sinful
misunderstanding of who God is and what God does. God punished Jesus in our place
for our sins. While we might suffer repercussions because of our sins, while we may
have certain maladies God allows to keep us humble or to test our faith, these are not
punishments from God, nor does God remove his promise that his grace is sufficient.
For every sickness, there is a cure. Through how many colds, contusions, cuts, or
COVID diagnoses in your life or in the lives of your loved ones has God brought his grace
and healed you? And when there is no earthly cure? God’s grace is sufficient to give
you the sure and confident hope of heaven and will soon usher you there.
Could Paul really believe God’s grace is sufficient? If he let his city/culture
convince him, he wouldn’t. If he let the unbelieving voices of his world speak more
loudly and more clearly than God’s promises, then he would not have trusted God.
Can we really believe God’s grace is sufficient? Absolutely! But, if we let the
voices of the unbelieving world around us speak more loudly and clearly than God, we
won’t trust God.
What are we listening to these days? I know a few people who watch way too
many news broadcasts and are influenced by the negativity or one-sidedness. I know
some who have been misled by a misguided TV preacher or a deceitful Internet
Listen to Jesus! See what lengths he went to to set you free from your sins—
coming down from the heights of heaven to live under the law here, going to the depths
of hell by his death on the cross and to announce his victory over Satan and opening
wide the door of his grave to confirm he is the conquering Christ! Hear his promises of
love, forgiveness and salvation, which only he is able to keep!
Did Paul believe God? Yes, as his very own God-inspired words confirm.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power
may rest on me. 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.
Paul knew the purpose of his thorn in the flesh and his other difficulties. He
knew his weakness meant strength because he would have to rely on Christ and not his
own goodness to get through hardships and to get to heaven.
Let’s make sure our words match what we believe, too. Let’s boast about Jesus
and his sacrifice which brought us salvation. Let’s speak about our trials and tribulations
as weaknesses that make us strong because they force us to rely on Jesus, not
In a world where it is difficult to figure out whom or what to believe, on a day of
worship when definitions are uncovered and we learn blessings are cursed and curses
are blessed, it is so important to believe what is said by our Savior God: his grace is
sufficient for us!