Prayer For Sufficient Grace
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness.” — 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NIV
Here is the scene: You and I and a half-dozen other folks are flying across the country in a chartered plane. All of a sudden the engine bursts into flames, and the pilot rushes the cockpit.
“We’re going to crash!” he yells. “We’ve got to bail out!”
Good thing he knows where the parachutes are because we don’t. He passes them out, gives us a few pointers, and we stand in line as he throws open the door.
The first passenger steps up to the door and shouts over the wind, “Could I make a request?”
“Sure, what is it?” “Any way I could get a pink parachute?” The pilot shakes his head in disbelief. “Isn’t it enough that I gave you a parachute at all?” And so the first passenger jumps.
The second steps to the door. “I’m wondering if there is any way you could ensure that I won’t get nauseated during the fall?”
“No, but I can ensure that you will have a parachute for the fall.”
Each of us comes with a request and receives a parachute.
“Please, Captain,” says one, “I am afraid of heights. Would you remove my fear?” “No,” he replies, “but I’ll give you a parachute.”
Another pleads for a different strategy, “Couldn’t you change the plans? Let’s crash with the plane. We might survive.” The pilot smiles and says, “You don’t know what you are asking,” and gently shoves the fellow out the door. One passenger wants some goggles, another wants boots, another wants to wait until the plane is closer to the ground.
“You people don’t understand,” the pilot shouts as he “helps” us, one by one. “I’ve given you a parachute; that is enough.”Only one item is necessary for the jump, and he provides it. He places the strategic tool in our hands. The gift is adequate. But are we content? No. We are restless, anxious, even demanding.
Too crazy to be possible? Maybe in a plane with pilots and parachutes, but on earth with people and grace? God hears thousands of appeals per second. Some are legitimate. We, too, ask God to remove the fear or change the plans. He usually answers with a gentle shove that leaves us airborne and suspended by His grace.
The Problem: When God Says No
There are times when the one thing you want is the one thing you never get. You’re not being picky or demanding; you’re only obeying His command to
ask God for everything you need. — Philippians 4:6
All you want is an open door or an extra day or an answered prayer, for which you will be thankful.
And so you pray and wait. No answer. You pray and wait.
No answer. You pray and wait.
May I ask a very important question? What if God says no? What if the request is delayed or even denied? When God says no to you, how will you respond? If God says, “I’ve given you My grace, and that is enough,” will you be content?
Content. That’s the word. A state of heart in which you would be at peace if God gave you nothing more than He already has. Test yourself with this question:
What if God’s only gift to you were His grace to save you. Would you be content?
You beg Him to save the life of your child. You plead with Him to keep your business afloat. You implore Him to remove the cancer from your body. What if His answer is, “My grace is enough.” Would you be content?
You see, from Heaven’s perspective, grace is enough. If God did nothing more than save us from hell, could anyone complain? If God saved our souls and then left us to spend our lives leprosy-struck on a deserted island, would He be unjust? Having been given eternal life, dare we grumble at an aching body? Having been given Heavenly riches, dare we bemoan earthly poverty?
Let me be quick to add, God has not left you with “just salvation.” If you have eyes to read these words, hands to hold this book, the means to own this volume, He has already given you grace upon grace. The vast majority of us have been saved and then blessed even more!But there are those times when God, having given us His grace, hears our appeals and says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Is He being unfair? In God Came Near I’ve told how our oldest daughter fell into a swimming pool when she was two years old. A friend saw her and pulled her to safety.
1 What I didn’t tell was what happened the next morning in my prayer time. I made a special effort to record my gratitude in my journal. I told God how wonderful He was for saving her.
As clearly as if God himself were speaking, this question came to mind: Would I be less wonderful had I let her drown? Would I be any less a good God for calling her home? Would I still be receiving your praise this morning had I not saved her?
Is God still a good God when He says no?
- Max Lucado, God Came Near (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1987), 151–52.
Excerpted with permission from In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.
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That’s quite a question, isn’t it? It’s a lot to chew on today. Is God still a good God when He says no? How has that question played out in your own life? How have you answered it? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily
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God Asks: Do You Believe My Grace Is Sufficient For You?
Why does God say, “My grace is sufficient for you?”
And what does it mean that God’s power is made perfect in weakness?
Ponder, for a moment, all the ways God displays his power. He controls the raging, torrential storms and the crippling droughts. He causes pompous, blustery dictators and kings and presidents to rise and fall.
Occasionally, he puts the laws of nature in detention and does the miraculous, when a woman in our church was healed from terminal Stage 4 breast cancer.
God isn’t the insecure, overly pimpled high school bully who constantly feels he needs to establish his dominance. He’s quite confident in his power and has an infinite variety of ways he can flex his figurative biceps.
Throughout scripture, God makes it clear that we should have a healthy fear of the Lord.
All of this makes God’s preferred method of showing off his power rather strange. God’s grace is sufficient, and his is power is made perfect… …in weakness. …in brokenness. …in weariness. When Paul begged God to take away his thorn (whatever it was), God said this to him:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
This is one of those scriptural double take, spew the water in surprise moments. It doesn’t make sense on the surface.
God could have delivered Paul and said to him, “My power is made perfect in my deliverance.” He could have said, “My mighty deliverance is sufficient for you.” But he didn’t.
Instead, he left Paul in his crippled state and said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
God’s power is greatest when we’re at our weakest.
And what we need most in our weakness is God’s sufficient grace, not more strength and not a dramatic deliverance.In other words, what we need most is NOT a chance in circumstances. Rather, we need to God’s grace that is sufficient for the very circumstances we find ourselves in. This is so backward from how the world operates.
We to show off our strength. To act we’ve got it all together. But this is the opposite of God. His power is made perfect in weakness. Why is this? Why is God so doggedly insistent on using weaknesses, MY WEAKNESSES, to show off his strength? Why does God repeatedly say, “My grace is sufficient for you?”
1. “My Grace Is Sufficient For You,” Means God Gets All The Glory
If I could sustain myself through trials by my own grit and moxie, then I could take some of the glory.
I made it on my own. I locked and loaded, buckled down, and hacked and whacked my way to the finish line.
But I can’t sustain myself in the slightest. If God wasn’t behind me pushing and before me making a way, I would head toward apostasy at the first sign of trials. No one will be boasting of their own strength in heaven. I will be boasting about how God sustained me through depression and heartache and trials. I will be boasting about how God answered my desperate prayers for my children.
God’s power is made perfect in weakness because it ensures that he alone gets all the glory. If God’s grace alone is sufficient to sustain me, I can’t take credit for sustaining myself.
God does it all, and we will boast only in him.
2. When God’s Grace Is Sufficient, It Shines A Spotlight On God’s Power
One of the great lies I’m tempted to believe is that I’m sufficient. For everything. For life, for marriage, for parenting, for working – the whole ball of wax.
Trials are a match that torch my facade and fallacy. I have zero ounces of sufficiency in myself. This reality is highlighted all the more when I’m in dire circumstances. I simply don’t have the spiritual strength keep going when the Red Sea is before me and the Egyptians are behind me.
If everything hinged on me, I would lose my salvation.However, God’s grace IS sufficient. God is Omni-sufficient. Sufficiency and strength and power course through his being and he is able to keep me through the bleakest struggles.
When I’m up against the wall, it forces me to cry out, “God, only you’re grace is sufficient to sustain me!” And when he delivers me, his power, not mine, is put on full display.
3. “My Grace Is Sufficient For You,” Highlights The Glory Of His Deliverance
God loves to deliver his people when the stakes are highest and the odds are the worst. He loves to come through in Hail Mary, do-or-die, Helm’s Deep is surrounded, situations. God wouldn’t let Gideon use 30,000 or 3,000 men.
He carved his army down to a measly 300 men, making the odds of victory so unfathomably small that only God could bring deliverance.
Goliath was an executioner armed with a colossal sword and spear. David was a shepherd boy attacking with a sling and a few rocks. Only God could snatch victory from the jaws of this defeat.
God’s power is made perfect in weakness because it shows that God and only God can deliver. We don’t have the power to rescue or deliver or save. But God’s grace is sufficient to do all those things.
4. If His Grace Is Sufficient, It Forces Me To Trust In God Alone
In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul recounts one of his darkest moments:
For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
God allowed Paul’s circumstances to become so bleak, so dire, so desperate, that he felt as if he had received a death sentence. From Paul’s perspective, death appeared to be imminent.Why would God let things get so horrifically bad? Why would he let Isaac get all the way to the altar? Why would he let Daniel actually be thrown into the lion’s den rather than rescuing him beforehand?
God wants his people to know that he alone is their hope. God leads me through the Valley of Death so that I’ll trust in him alone. So that I’ll cling to his sufficient grace. So that I’ll give up the ludicrous charade that I can go it alone.
5. Because God’s Grace Is Sufficient, It Deepens My Trust In God
When things get really bad, I start playing out various scenarios in my head. For example, if my finances are tight, I start doing all sorts of calculations about when this bill will go through and whether I can make some additional money doing this activity and how to make everything work out alright in the end.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with planning for the future, it’s easy for me to fall into the temptation of trusting in my own understanding rather than God’s sufficient grace.
I think this is why Proverbs exhorts us to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not to lean on our own understanding. When I lean on my own understanding, I’m failing to trust God, whose power and ability to deliver are far beyond my understanding.
When I trust in the sufficiency of God’s grace, I truly can be anxious for nothing. When God does intervene and rescue me, it becomes abundantly clear to me that it was not due to my magnificent strategizing, but his glorious, sufficient grace.
Let Us Lean On God With All Our Weight
Charles Spurgeon said:
Let us lean on God with all our weight. Let us throw ourselves on his faithfulness as we do on our beds, bringing all our weariness to his dear rest.
The solution to weakness is not a stiff upper lip. It’s to lean on God with all our weight – to throw ourselves on the one whose power is made perfect in our weakness. Then, and only then, are we strong.
Sustained by All His Grace
This morning we complete our interpretation of page two of themission/vision statement of our church—”The Spiritual Dynamicthat drives our Mission.” The phrase we focus on is ” . . .sustained by all his grace.”
Grace Sustains Everything
Consider this word “sustained.” In the Twin Cities Marathon afew weeks ago one of the wheel chair participants had a blowoutnear the end of the race.
But he kept going on the rim of hiswheel, until five blocks from the finish line the wheel buckled andthe chair fell over. Some people from the sidelines ran to him andheld the chair level, running along beside him while he finishedthe race.
They sustained him. They held him up. They enabled him todo what he needed to do. That's what grace does for us.But the comparison is not exact. In fact it is very misleading.Because while the friends holding up the chair is a good picture ofgrace, it was the man's tremendous upper-body strength that got himacross the finish line after 26 miles, and his friends had nothingto do with that.
That strength came from him not them. But grace isnot that. Grace sustains everything in the Christian life. Itholds up the broken chair. It gives the upper-body strength. Itprevents other obstacles. It keeps his heart beating. It keeps hiseyes seeing.
Grace sustains everything in the Christian life.
“What Do You Have That You Did Not Receive?”
Let me show you a few verses to give some biblical basis to thisclaim. In 1 Corinthians 4:7 Paul says,
And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
The answer to that first question is “nothing.” “What do youhave that you have not received?” Answer: nothing. But in spite ofthis there was boasting going on in the church at Corinth.
Which toPaul's mind was totally contradictory to reality. If all you haveis a free gift from God—that's what grace means—thenyou can't boast as if it were not a gift. Grace eliminatesboasting.
You can't boast as though you create and sustain whatgrace creates and sustains.
That's why Paul said that he would not boast except in the crossof Christ which is the ground of grace (Galatians 6:14) and in hisweaknesses which show his need for grace (2 Corinthians 12:9). Andit's why he said in Romans 15:18,I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.
So for Paul everything good that he has is a gift of grace, andeverything he accomplishes with what he has is a work of grace. Andso all boasting is excluded, except boasting in grace.
“Yet Not I, but the Grace of God with Me”
Here's another example of this all-supplying work of grace thatmakes it different from holding up a wheelchair so that strongpeople can finish showing their strength. In 1 Corinthians 15:10Paul says,
By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
Now if you only read the words, “I labored even more than all ofthem,” you might think that grace is a few friends holding upyour wheelchair so you could show your upper-body strength andfinish the race. But that won't work in this text.
- It says, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” In other words the Paul which labored so hard got to be that way by the grace of God. So even though he is working hard to preach the gospel, yet the “he” that is working hard is a work of grace.
- The other reason grace is not holding up a wheelchair is at the end of the verse. After Paul says, “I labored even more than all of them,” he says, “Yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” “The grace of God with me” might sound grace was holding up the wheelchair and Paul was independently doing his part to turn the wheels and get across the finish line. So riding well and getting to heaven would be a team project and grace would get some credit and Paul would get some credit. But Paul guards against that interpretation with the words, “Yet not I.” The effect of grace is so all-pervading and so all-influencing and all-sufficient and all-necessary that when it has done its work, you say, “I worked, yet not I.”
“For It Is God Who Is at Work in You”
That means that we really do work, but all our working is thefruit of enabling grace. Paul explains this in Philippians2:12b–13,
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
We work, but when we have worked by faith in God's enablingfuture grace (rather than for the merit of the law), we turn aroundand say about our work, “My work was God's work in me, willing and doing his good pleasure.”
All of GraceSo when we say here at the end of the Spiritual Dynamic that weare “sustained by all his grace,” we do not mean sustained friends sustaining a broken wheelchair while we do our ownindependent work. We mean that everything in this spiritual dynamicis sustained by God's grace. “Treasuring all that God is” is a workof grace in my heart.
I would not treasure God without a mightywork of grace in my life (Acts 18:27; Philippians 1:29; Ephesians 2:8f.; 2 Timothy2:25). “Loving all whom he loves” is a work of grace in my heart (1Thessalonians 3:12; 4:9; Philippians 1:9; Galatians 5:22). “Praying for all hispurposes” is a work of grace in my heart (Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 13:21).
And “meditating on all his Word” is a work of grace (Psalm119:36).
The Giver Gets the Glory
Why has God set it up this way? Because the giver gets theglory. God has established the universe in such a way that itmagnifies the glory of his all-sufficiency. You can see this reallyclearly in 1 Peter 4:11.
Whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies [that's grace]; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
God gets the glory because he gave the grace.
So you see, I hope, why the goal (or the top) of our SpiritualDynamic is the supremacy of the glory of God, and the ground (orthe bottom) of our Spiritual Dynamic is the all-sustaining grace ofGod. All things are by his grace because all things are for hisglory. The all-sufficient, inexhaustible Giver gets the glory.
Now let's draw out two lessons about grace from what we haveseen so far.
Grace: Pardon for Sin and Power for Obedience
First, grace is both pardon for the sins of the past andpower for the obedience of the future. This is what we have seen.We believe in the great news of Ephesians 2:8, “By grace you havebeen saved through faith.” This is bygone grace.
It's past. It wasdemonstrated in the death of Christ on the cross bearing our sinsand removing the curse of the law and absorbing the wrath of God.Without this grace no good thing could come to us as sinners. Nopromises could be made.
But just as important as this bygone grace of pardon is thefuture grace of power. Jesus said to Paul, when he wondered how hewould be able to endure his thorn in the flesh,
My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.Grace is power for Christian living. Grace is the power totreasure all that God is for us in Jesus. Grace is the power tolove all whom God loves. Grace is the power to pray for all God'spurposes. Grace is the power to meditate on all God's Word. We areutterly dependent on grace for our Spiritual Dynamic atBethlehem.
So grace is not only a past experience of pardon, it is a futureexperience of power to do what God commands us to do. This is whygratitude for past grace is not the fuel for today's obedience.
Youcan't run your car on gratitude for yesterday's gas. You needtoday's gas for today's trip. You need today's grace for today'sobedience. And the pump is not gratitude but faith in future grace.
The great challenge of this mission statement is learning how tolive by faith in future grace.
God Is Most Glorified in Us When We Are Most Satisfied inHim
The second lesson about grace from what we have seen is thatit explains the connection between the supremacy of God and joy in ourmission statement: “To spread a passion for the supremacy of God inall things for the joy of all peoples.”
Why does a passion for the supremacy of God result in joy?Answer: because the inexhaustible supremacy of God's glory isexperienced in the overflow of his grace. If you want to magnifythe supremacy of God the way the Bible magnifies the supremacy ofGod, you have to call attention to the lavish overflow of God'sgrace.
Remember, the Giver gets the glory. So knowing about graceand experiencing grace as the power for all Christianbelieving andliving is the best way to magnify the supremacy of God.
When youdepend on God for everything instead of thinking of him dependingon you, you call attention to the supremacy of his fullness and hisall-sufficiency.
We to say, God is most glorified in us when we are mostsatisfied in him. So the connection between God's supremacy and ourjoy is that his supremacy is manifest most by his all-supplying,all-satisfying grace.
God's Grace and Bethlehem's Fresh Initiatives
Now let's conclude by applying this to a few of our freshinitiatives on page three. What we are saying is that the missionof the church is only possible by the powerful work of God's gracein our lives.
Thus if anything good comes of this whole enterprise,it will be owing to God's grace. I hope in the years to come as welook back we can say, “By the grace of God we are what we are andhis grace to us was not in vain, but we worked hard.
But it was notwe but the grace of God that was with us.”
Fresh Initiative #1
Take the first fresh initiative, for example.
The value of relationships. We will take new practical steps to develop an atmosphere where personal, deepening, supportive, faith-building relationships of love are highly valued as expressions of our passion for the supremacy of God's love.
The best exposition of this is in the side bar at thebottom:Therefore, we embrace God's call for new, visible manifestations of love toward each other, our guests, and our neighbors. With a fresh openness and outgoing spirit to each other and to all new people, we henceforth put understanding above accusation, forbearance above fault-finding, and biblical unity above the demand for uniformity.
And I would add that the most pressing area where that needs tobe applied is in the area of worship forms during this interimperiod at Bethlehem (fresh initiative number 4).
But now where do we get the help to be that kind of person if weby nature are accusing, blaming, and fault-finding? Hebrews 4:16gives the most crucial answer:
Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
This is a time of need in our church. And an exciting time ofneed for love, for patience, for understanding, for forbearance.Which means it is a time to go to God for grace. We need to besustained by grace. And when we are full grace, grace will come outof our mouths.
Consider Ephesians 4:29.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Do your words about worship in this transition time at Bethlehembuild people up and give grace to those who hear? Are they aspillover of the grace you are enjoying from the throne of grace asyou go there hour-by-hour and fill up?
Fresh Initiative #3
Or consider Fresh Initiative number 3.
Interracial reconciliation. Against the rising spirit of indifference, alienation, and hostility in our land, we will embrace the supremacy of God's love to take new steps personally and corporately toward racial reconciliation, expressed visibly in our community and in our church.The more I think about this and the more I listen to others whoare working on it, the more it is plain to me that this issomething that demands a long-term, persistent, rugged,in-your-face kind of love. This, perhaps, more than any initiativewill feel depleting. So where are you going to get that kind ofcommitment—that kind of love?
2 Corinthians 9:8 gives the essential answer:
God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may abound for every good deed.
That is an amazing promise. Every good deed in racialreconciliation God has for you to do, he is able to give you thegrace to do. You don't have to wear out. You don't have to give up.You don't have to be depleted. There is all sufficiency ineverything for every good work. Future grace is the gas fortomorrow's obedience.
Live by Faith in Future Grace
Will we believe in it and live by faith in it?
There are promises of future grace for every one of our FreshInitiatives. What this little booklet of our mission statement iscalling for us to do is to learn how to live by faith in futuregrace. And the reason that matters so much is that when theall-sufficiency of grace is magnified, God is magnified.
Some of us here this morning need to repent of offending againstthe Spirit of grace—perhaps most of us. Hebrews 10:29 speaksof insulting the Spirit of grace. And Ephesians 4:30 speaks ofgrieving the Holy Spirit by our unedifying words. So let's repentand turn from old patterns of negativism and fault-finding, andlearn together to walk and talk by faith in future grace.
God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may abound for every good deed.
Study 6 GRACE SUFFICIENT FOR EVERY NEED – Words of Life Ministries
DAYS OF HEAVEN UPON EARTH by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10)
Two scripture passages form a foundation for the title of this study. The first is in 2 Corinthians 9:8, where Paul magnifies the grace of God; the second is in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, which consists of a page from Paul’s autobiography where he testifies to the way in which he has proved the grace of God.
We, as Christians, are always in need of grace - not only ’dying grace’, but grace to enable us to live to the praise and glory of God. We may experience that God’s grace is sufficient for our every need, not only to enable us to get through difficult situations but to do so triumphantly! There are three main thoughts in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10:
1. THE SUFFERING PAUL EXPERIENCED
Every Christian experiences trial and testing. First, because this is the common experience of all members of the human race (Job 5:7); and second, because it is the common experience of all Christians (Philippians 1:29). In verse 7, the apostle tells us about a very hard trial – “a thorn in my flesh”. Concerning this, notice:
- The Nature of it. It was real, and not imaginary. It was not a recurring carnal desire, otherwise Paul would not have gloried in it (verse 9); nor does it seem ly that it was some fellow-believer or an unbeliever who was ’a thorn’ in his side; nor was it remorse over his pre-conversion persecution of the saints. It was an infirmity, a weakness, a handicap. It is helpful to us that we do not know what that thorn was, other than that it was physical and painful. Thus, we may apply the promise of verse 9 to our infirmities - our deafness, weak digestion, aches and pains, timidity …
- The Purpose of it. When unpleasant things happen to us we naturally ask ‘Why has God permitted this?’ In Paul’s case the purpose was revealed to him (verse 7). He was particularly susceptible to the temptation of pride and conceit because of his very great gifts, and because of his amazing experience at Lystra fourteen years previously - read verses 2-6. (Compare Acts 14:19-20). God gave Paul a ’thorn’ to keep him humble. It was purposeful, as are all our trials and tribulations. Look up John 13:7, and take courage - for the Lord is working out His purpose in your life.
- The Source of it. Where did this ’thorn’ come from? Verse 7 says it was “a messenger of Satan”, but notice the word ’given’. This ’thorn’ was a gift! In Psalm 55:22 the word ’cares’ may be translated gift. Now carefully compare Philippians 1:29. So we see that God’s ‘thorns’ are given to us by Him, though He sometimes allows Satan to deliver them - as He did in the case of Job. This is a great mystery, but such is the teaching of scripture.
- The Result of it. What effect did Paul’s ’thorn’ have upon him? It drove him to prayer - which reminds us of the Christian man who backslid, and who, when he was stricken with paralysis and came back to the Lord, was heard to say, ’Oh, God! I thank you for my dear paralysis!’
2. THE SUPPLICATION PAUL MADE
In verse 8 we are told that Paul prayed about his infirmity. Do you pray about yours? Have you brought your case before the Great Physician? Look up James 5:13-15, and notice:-
- Paul prayed definitely - “… to take it away from me”. See what the Lord Jesus said in Luke 22:31-32.
- Paul prayed earnestly - for he tells us that he “pleaded with the Lord…” probably with tears.
- Paul prayed persistently - for he tells us that he made his request ”three times” - and yet after praying three times the ’thorn’ still remained!
But notice, his prayer was answered - not in the way he expected, but in the way God wanted. When we pray, sometimes the Lord answers our prayers with a YES, sometimes with a NO, sometimes with a WAIT, and sometimes He answers quite DIFFERENTLY from what we expect - as He did here. What a good thing it is that He does not always answer our prayers in the way we want!
3. THE SUFFICIENCY PAUL RECEIVED
Paul’s prayer was answered in the greatest possible way - by a revelation of the Lord Himself! The greatest answer to prayer is not the thing we pray for - but HIM! Study verse 9 carefully, and notice that with the revelation of Himself the Lord gave the promise of His sufficiency.
- It was a Powerful Sufficiency - for the Lord said, “My grace …My power …”; and link these expressions up with Isaiah 40:28-31.
- It was a Personal Sufficiency. Notice also in verse 9 - “He… me …My …you.” That is very wonderful! - grace sufficient for you in your need, and grace sufficient for me in my need!
- It was a Present Sufficiency. The Lord said, “My grace is sufficient …”, not ‘will be’. The grace was already there for Paul to draw upon. All he had to do was to appropriate, to take, to receive, to experience, and to enjoy! Look up 2 Kings 6:15-17.
- It was a Plentiful Sufficiency. The Lord said, “My grace is enough …”; and as the need increases the grace will increase - 2 Corinthians 9:8. In our Lord Jesus Christ is all the grace we need to make us the people He wants us to be, to keep us doing God’s will and to enable us to finish our course with joy - and all we have to do is to draw upon His plentiful supply!
- It was a Practical Sufficiency. The grace of the Lord became operative in Paul’s weakness; therefore the ‘thorn’ became the channel of the power of God, for His strength was made perfect in weakness! ‘And’, says the apostle Paul in the last part of verse 9, ‘it really works!’ Dr Scroggie calls the last 19 words of verse 9, ‘The Song of the Sanctified Thorn’!
May we all learn this great secret of the transfiguration of our troubles!