But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I have taken for granted that I understand this verse. I’ve had it memorized for years, but I don’t think I fully grasp its meaning. I think I’ve been skating along the surface of it. Satisfied with an easy glide rather than challenging myself to some beautiful spins and leaps.
Today I was thinking how much I do really want to get this passage and how there seems to be a depth to it I can’t comprehend.
God sometimes gives me better understanding through writing. It’s like I think with my fingers on the keyboard. So here I sit with a very few minutes before the day begins in earnest and I must rush to work. I had to write though. I had to “think” about this verse more.
I have a foundational understanding of the “grace is sufficient” part – I know how desperately I need grace and how it is all I need.
Sufficient is an interesting word…it means “enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end.” (Merriam-Webster)
Enough for me in my situation. Enough to get me where God wants me…my proposed end in eternity.
Grace is the perfect amount to get me to God. Grace is the perfect amount to give me hope.
No matter if I need a dash or dump truck full…God provides. (Hmmmm….trying to think of a time I’ve only needed a dash…)
The second part of that verse is a bit more baffling to me.
“for my power is made perfect in weakness”
It’s like I read that verse and for a moment I have some clarity and then it clouds back up again and I think (as so many of my students say), “Wait, what?”
What has God’s power being made perfect in my weakness have to do with grace? With sufficient grace? And how does that word “perfect” fit?
I understand that God’s power shines through my life because I must rely on Him…trust Him with so much of my life.
Maybe the issue is not in my not understanding His power, but rather in not understanding my weaknesses.
I’m realizing that maybe I’m consistently viewing my weaknesses as all sin issues. I should be able to do all that God has given me to do and do it well…it must be a flaw in me that I can’t. I should be able to do this life better.
Do I have this all wrong?
I think I might.
Paul says that because of God’s power being made perfect in weakness, he “will boast all the more gladly of [his] weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon [him]. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Another verse that seems deeper than I treat it.
Sooooo….I boast in my weaknesses? Seriously? I want to hide my weaknesses. Really hide them. Like dig a very deep hole, bury them, cover with a pretty garden, and throw away the shovel. The pretty garden is key. Keep that baby hidden and beautiful.
Paul says that because of all this grace and power stuff, he is “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.”
Maybe I need to look up those words and see what applies to me. Weak? Check. Insults? Not sure. Hardships? Check. Persecutions? I don’t think so. Calamities? Ummm…seems like it.
Weaknesses. In spite of them, God’s purpose prevails. That must be His power. The power to use this weak, fail of gal and make her strong in Him and possibly even a blessing to someone else.
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10
I looked this verse up in the Matthew Henry Commentary that we inherited from an old pastor. (We backed over his books so they became ours…long story. Kinda funny. Good ending. I now own a great (albeit slightly bent) set of commentaries. And the pastor has a brand new set.)
Matthew Henry says, “ This is a Christian paradox: when we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we see ourselves weak in ourselves, then we go out of ourselves to Christ, and are qualified to receive strength from him, and experience most of the supplies of divine strength and grace.” (p. 643)
I think that I understand it a bit better. If I can acknowledge my weaknesses and not turn in on myself in despair, but rather look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith…if I can turn to my Savior and grab hold of his strength and power…if I can step outside of myself and into His strength…that is the power in weakness. That is God’s power perfectly working in my life not just in spite of my weakness, but within my weaknesses.
Again, I am back to the question of how does that practically happen in my life.
Maybe I’m looking too often for the 10 step plan when all I really need to do is change the way I think about things.
I seem to be looking for an actual sword I can wield throughout the day…slaying worry, anxiety, anger, frustration, disappointment, and sorrow. Have I not been given a sword to wield already?
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darks of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6:16-17
Sometimes I forget the power that God has given us within His word. I can look at those words as something to be studied, pondered, and memorized, and completely forget that they are life…life-giving, power-infusing, fear-dispelling, hope-instilling, peace-providing words. Words that not only show me how to live, but words that make life livable.
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (v.10-11)
Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. (v.24)
My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! (v.28)
Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. (v.36-37)
Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. (v.66)
Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. (v.73)
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. (v.92)
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth. (v.103)
Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. (v.105)
Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. (v.111)
You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. (v.114)
Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. (v.165)
Those verse are rich with the beauty of how God’s word is an integral part of our lives when we let it…the blessings if it are many.
The oh-so-many weaknesses that I have are not my flaws, but the cracks in my pot that let God’s power shine through. His power is holding this cracked pot together. I’ve been trying to hold it together for a while, and it is difficult work – dare I say, impossible. The visual I provide others is a harried, weary working mom who is easily frustrated, easily angered, and easily brought to tears.
The woman I show when God is holding me together is peaceful, even joyful…she knows her life is not her own that she’s been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). She knows her Savior loves her.
No matter what I struggle with or where I go or what I do or say or even think, God loves me and His power is perfectly displayed in my life…and amazingly, even in my weaknesses.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10