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 of 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. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
This verse came alive to me today, very unexpectedly. I was studying for MT when I came across this verse. I've read this passage many times, and even quoted it. But today, it just clicked.
Earlier in the chapter, Paul is talking about "a thorn in the flesh" and a "messenger of Satan to harass me". He pleaded with the Lord multiple times to take it from him, but God responds by telling Paul that His grace is sufficient and that in Paul's weakness, He is actually powerful.
This really hit home for me. Recently, I have had my own "thorn in the flesh". I have struggled with understanding why God didn't just take some feelings from me. (See my previous posts.) But according to Him, His grace is enough in the midst of those feelings. His glory and power shines through my weakness. My weaknesses can point people to the cross. How humbling.
Grace can be defined as "unmerited favor". It is something I don't deserve. And I definitely don't deserve grace during the times I am questioning God or whining about His plan. Sufficient means "enough to meet the situation". It also means "qualified and competent". God grace lavished on us through His Son is enough in any situation. He is overqualified and completely competent. Only God could reveal power in our most extreme weaknesses.
So what is Paul's response to this kind of grace? He doesn't say that the thorn was removed from his side. He instead boasts in his weaknesses so that the power of Christ will rest upon him. How radical is this? How many of us even reveal our weaknesses, much less boast in them? Furthermore, Paul says that he is content in his weakness. I'm usually not even content when things are going "right" in my life. Finally, Paul reveals another radical aspect that the gospel sheds light on -- when we are weak, then we are strong. In contrast to what the world tells us, real strength comes from being open and vulnerable and letting God work in us.
I want to begin to understand this kind of grace given to us and this kind of response. I feel like I've only hit the tip of the iceberg. God has given us so much grace. We should be able to use that for the glory of God, for the good of people, and for the advancement of the kingdom.
One way we can display grace is through forgiveness. My good friend Sarah recently encouraged me with Matthew 6:14, "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." In the same way God has lavished grace on me, He has forgiven me; I also need to forgive others. Ephesians 4:32 also says, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." A way to be gracious to people is to extend forgiveness to them.
I've been thinking about this idea of forgiveness for a while, and today I had to act upon it. I was convicted about the way I was treating someone who had hurt me; I wasn't being mean to them, I was simply ignoring them and not working toward forgiveness. God really placed the desire to change that on my heart, so today I met up with that person. It was hard, don't get me wrong, but it went really really well. I was able to express what I had been convicted of and to apologize for it. More than that, I felt like I made the first big, real step toward forgiveness. Not that everything just magically was all better - I still remember the hurt I went through. But forgiveness is not forgetting; it is seeing the person as Christ sees them choosing not to bring a transgression up against them again. After all, God doesn't just forget our sins; He is omniscient. He gives us grace and chooses not to count them against us. Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Psalm 32:1
God has lavished so much grace and forgiveness on us. If we are following Him and want to be like Christ, we have to extend that to others. We have to choose to respond in a graceful way. And it's not easy; in fact, it's really hard. We can't do it on our own. But thankfully, we have Christ; for when we are weak, we are strong.