Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 11 2013 - 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 – The sufficiency of grace

Have you ever thought (or said) that if only some particular circumstance of your life were different you would be able to serve the Lord so much more effectively? If only you had a better voice; if only you had been able to secure that job you really wanted; if only you had better health, more time, more money, fewer demands on you from others ...

The apostle Paul suffered with some form of troubling condition which he clearly wished to be rid of. Some think it was a problem with his eyesight. Whatever it may have been, it not only caused him personal pain, he seems to have viewed it as a threat to his ministry, as a “messenger from Satan”. On three occasions Paul asked the Lord to heal him but he was told, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul’s response to what might have seemed a disappointing answer to his prayer was, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me” (12:10).

Paul discovered that the grace of God is sufficient for every circumstance and that when it comes to serving God our own “power” or personal abilities may even get in the way; it is God’s power at work in us and through us that is important. Indeed, Paul is now thankful for his disability. He recognises that he has been greatly favoured by God; he received revelations of Christ and of God’s redemptive purposes that are beyond expression. He now also accepts his disability as a gift from God, given to prevent him becoming conceited, given to keep him dependent upon God’s grace day by day. He warns the Christians at Corinth against those who boast in their spiritual attainments. They are living off their own attainments rather than depending upon God's grace.

These are hard lessons for us to learn. We find it far easier to play the “if only” game rather than truly believing, appreciating and experiencing the sufficiency of God’s grace. We find it easier to complain about those things which we view as limitations upon our lives rather than recognising that all of our circumstances are gifts from God – gifts designed to keep us close to him.

In the wonderful and profound film, Fiddler on a Roof, Tevye (Topol) sings, “If I were a rich man…” In the song he cries out God, “Would it spoil some vast, eternal plan, if I were a wealthy man?” The answer is, yes, it probably would. And it would almost certainly spoil you and your relationship with God. “Give me neither poverty nor riches” reads Proverbs 30:8-9, “but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God”. Moses wished that the Lord had given him greater eloquence so that he might be better able to challenge Pharaoh. Instead, God promised that he would go with him. Which was the better gift? We need the Lord to give us the wisdom to live well and thankfully in the context within which he has placed us.

Lord, help me this day to believe and to know that your grace is sufficient to enable me not only to live the life you call me to live, but to serve you in all you call me to do. In every situation I encounter this day, help me to prove your power in my weakness that Christ might be glorified and others may be blessed.

Peter Misselbrook