“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 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, I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV)
I don’t know of anyone who likes to struggle and I’m no exception. I struggled with debilitating health issues for years that often left me feeling weak and begging God for relief.
Struggles often come paired with questions:
Why is this happening to me?
What did I do to deserve this?
Will this ever get better or go away?
In the Bible, in 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul tells us of his own struggle. He begged the Lord three times to remove this hardship, but instead of taking it away, God gave him what he needed to endure and persevere through it: His Sufficiency.
The Lord told Paul this: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)
God’s Grace is Sufficient
In addition to grace being God’s unmerited favor for us, grace can also be described as God’s intentional involvement in our lives. God is a personal God with a unique plan for each of our lives. God’s plan for allowing Paul’s hardship was for him to have a dependency on the sufficiency of God’s strength. Isn’t this amazing?
Throughout my health struggles, I was tempted to put my hope for relief in my relentless pursuit to find solutions and answers. But my pursuit often left me more weak, more discouraged, and more desperate than before. When I was finally able to surrender my self-sufficiency for God’s all-sufficiency, healing began to happen. And it wasn’t necessarily only physical healing, but it was the healing of a desperate and depleted spirit. Like the Psalmist writes:
“Then they cried to theLord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind” (Psalm 107:13-15)
The grace that is sufficient to save us is the same grace that is sufficient to strengthen and sustain us.
God’s Presence is Sufficient
Perhaps, God is calling you to surrender your self-sufficiency to Him. Paul asked God to take away his suffering, but instead, God assured him that He would be with him in his suffering, that His power would rest on him.
When we are suffering we want to grasp hold of whatever means is necessary to end the suffering. But God will use our suffering as a means to a different end–the end of ourselves–which is where we grasp the fullness of His power.
God’s Provision is Sufficient
Everything that God chooses to do or not do has a purpose in it. In our weakness, God wants to remind us we need Him. “Apart from Him, we can do nothing.” John 15:5.
It is good to pray for relief and ask for healing, which demonstrates our faith. But even if they don’t come on this side of eternity, we must desire something greater—a dependent relationship with God who is perfectly all-sufficient for our every need:
His grace will always be enough.
His presence will be our peace.
His provision will be exactly what we need.
His power will strengthen us to carry on when we feel we can’t.
When we come to the end of ourselves, we can then accept God’s invitation into the kind of intimate relationship with Him that is only shaped by trust and surrender.
It is in that space, by grace, that we, like Paul, will be able to gladly boast about our weaknesses, because it is only by God’s all-sufficient strength and almighty power that we can do more than we could ever do on our own.