My Grace is Sufficient

By Pastor Teck Uy

We do not fully appreciate the grace and power of God until we are in a situation where we are completely helpless. Our tendency is to depend on our strength and abilities, while calling on God for help is often the last resort. This could be the situation of the apostle Paul when God, in response to Paul’s call, said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). Paul had a thorn in the flesh, an affliction that he tried to overcome but to no avail. He pleaded with God three times but there was no relief. Nevertheless, he was assured of the sufficiency of God’s grace.

The affliction of Paul was not meant to destroy or kill him. Rather, it was an affliction that the Lord used to check his heart’s condition. He was about to sin but God quickly protected him through this affliction. The apostle Paul testified, “To keep me from being conceited because of these surpassing great revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me” (2 Cor. 12:7). He was about to commit the sin of pride. He had been doing great in his ministry and pride was inching its way into his head and heart. This thorn in the flesh brought him to his lowliest state and quickly caused him to realize that he needed the grace of God to overcome.

Having been assured of the sufficiency of God’s grace, the apostle Paul said, “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” (2 Cor. 12:10). It is the grace of God that makes us strong when we are weakened by all kinds of afflictions. Many of these afflictions serve as messenger of Satan, but God uses them to redirect us so that we do not fall into the devil’s trap. Conceit or pride has been the devil’s primary tool to bring down believers. Pride draws us away from God because we have the tendency to rely on our own strength and abilities when we are succeeding in our endeavors.

King David, a man after God’s own heart, also suffered many afflictions. However, he did not treat these as a sign of disfavour from God. Instead, he thanked the Lord for them. He said, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees” (Psalm 119:71). He saw the hand of God in his affliction. God was teaching him and he learned his lesson albeit the hard way. This is not something that is so peculiar to David only. God has been using afflictions to teach believers his ways. These afflictions are not meant to destroy us but to open our eyes to the truth of God’s love and be saved. David said, “I know, LORD, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me” (Psalm 119:75).

Just like the apostle Paul, who recognized that God uses affliction to protect us, David also recognized this. He said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word” (Psalm 119:67). Affliction is often used by the Lord as a tool to discipline and correct us when we go astray. When our hearts are hardened by the ways of this world, the Lord needs to use strong methods in order to warn us. We should welcome these to ensure that we do not miss God’s best for us. If we choose to rebel and take God’s discipline negatively, nobody will suffer but us.

If there is anything that Paul chose to boast about after his affliction and after having been assured of God’s grace, it is this: “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9). When we admit our weaknesses, God can work fully in us. For as long as we have our own strength to rely on in times of trouble, God will not be able to do his work fully in us. No wonder God ministers healing on us when we are fast asleep. It is when we are asleep that we are completely helpless. We are vulnerable and cannot defend ourselves from anyone who plans to inflict harm on us. But this is the best time for God to work in our lives since we cannot interfere. He is free to work in every detail of our lives and heal us. No wonder even the body is healed when we are asleep. We often hear people encourage those who are sick to sleep well and tomorrow they will feel better.

May we all count on the sufficiency of God’s grace when we face challenges in our lives. Let us consider our own afflictions as a way by which God is shielding us from the worst that the devil is trying to inflict on us. Let us learn our lesson well and thank God for his love and faithfulness. His grace is sufficient for us. Hallelujah!