God's grace is supposed to be sufficient for His children (2 Cor. 12:9), and by sufficient we mean "enough" and that His grace should "suffice" for us. This declaration was penned by the Apostle Paul at a time when he suffered from an infirmity or weakness of his soul or body.
He likened the infirmity to a "thorn" in his flesh or a "messenger of Satan." He asked the Lord three times to remove the thorn only to realize that the "thorn" kept him weak, without conceit, and ever dependent upon the strength of the Lord. He concluded that was a pretty good trade off.
To me, this is a tough sale. I'm not so convinced. Just this morning, I agonized in prayer over a particular unfulfilled, godly longing that I have. You know, the kind of Christ-like longing or hope you have that is deferred or postponed and that leaves your heart grief-stricken, sick, or wounded (Pro. 13:12)? And personally as a Christian, I am supposed to buck it up and demonstrate the godly maturity to step back and allow God's grace to be sufficient when my heart aches? Hmm. Just how does this play out?
I discovered something about God's sufficiency this morning. This word in Hebrew traces back to a word meaning defense or a raised barrier. So let me substitute: God's grace is a defense, a raised barrier for me. Suddenly, my spirit began to grow stronger and feel refreshed when I considered that the sufficiency I am supposed to claim comes from without instead of from within.
Do you understand the difference? I do not have to feel content or satisfied when I have godly longings that go unfulfilled or infirmities of body or soul that will not go away. I can have those longings, I can experience those infirmities; BUT around my heart, around my body is built the sufficiency of His grace. God raises a barrier of protection and defense for me, a rock fortress of His protection and presence.
"Heartache crushes the spirit," we read in Proverbs 15:13, and "a crushed spirit dries up the bones" (Pro. 17:22). Inwardly we may suffer, but outwardly can we lay our eyes on the raised barrier of His grace? In our brokenness and afflictions, can we look for His protection? And when we discover that He loves us enough to surround us completely and sufficiently (crushed spirit and dry bones alike), can we learn to trust Him, His ways, and His thoughts?
How do you think Paul discovered the secret of being "content whatever the circumstances" (Phi. 4:11)? To be sure he suffered and had unfulfilled, godly longings. But not far from his heartache, God raised the barrier, the sufficiency of His grace. And this was enough to redirect Paul's vision, protect him, and carry him through. This is how grace is sufficient. It is not sufficient inside of, but sufficient beyond. Our infirmities may remain, but God's grace fully surrounds them.
If your hope is deferred, take heart. It could be that God is protecting or defending you and others in ways unimagined. Go ahead: Tie a scarlet cord in the window of your heart, but keep your eyes on God's sufficiency. He won't let you down.
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
Blue Letter Bible. "Paul's Epistle - 2 Corinthians 12 - (KJV - King James Version)." Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2013. 29 Jul 2013. < http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?=2Cr&c=12&t=KJV >
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