“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
This verse summarizes the startling message of 2 Corinthians 12. It encapsulates perhaps the hardest of Christ’s teachings: That we must abandon our love of the things of this world. Almost everything we learn to value in life, almost everything we seek outside of Christ, damages our relationship with Him to some degree; this verse is like a homing beacon, to bring us back to Him when the world has pulled us away.
We do not hear the idea of it emphasized for an ironic reason. The people we are most likely to hear speaking and writing are prominent; and few prominent people are assiduous in finding grace sufficient. People who are celebrated and followed are strong: strong in intellect, strong in self-promotion, strong in power, strong in their ability to speak and write convincingly, and generally either rich or having control over wealth. They generally take satisfaction in having many followers; and satisfaction with being heard is, at its heart, pride in one’s own accomplishment.
Every lesson in life teaches us to seek strength. We fear death and loss of property, so we want to be able to take care of ourselves against attackers at every level: a home secure against intruders, good police who will come quickly, or military strength. We fear humiliation, so we teach ourselves rhetoric that we may argue convincingly. We guard our egos fiercely.
We spend our leisure time exercising to strengthen and beautify our bodies. We seek medical attention to extend our physical lives, avoid pain, and maximize our mobility. We seek strength of will, to avoid sin and to get done what we want to get done in this life.
The seeking of strength, in short, informs every thought and action of the human life. Even when we pray, it is often for strength! Heal me, Lord; help me get the job, make more money, have a good marriage.
Most of what we seek is not sinful, in and of itself. What drives us away from Christ is the attitude within ourselves that becomes an automatic response, that we must become stronger. For the stronger we are, the more difficult it is for us to understand and accept God’s grace, granted to us by Christ.
But once we understand that grace is sufficient for us, we hold the key to innumerable problems. Is our first goal to solve our earthly problems, or is our first goal to accept God’s grace? We must always hold in mind these difficult truths: First, grace is sufficient for us. It is all we need. Second, our power is made perfect in weakness. It is our weakness, not our strength, that helps us, or even allows us, to find Christ.
Never forget, Christ’s triumph came through the ultimate earthly loss, the loss of His life; and His grace will become perfect in us by our own ultimate loss, death. Do we not see, then, that our suffering, our losses, our defeats in life increase Christ’s grace in our lives? Paul tells us repeatedly to rejoice in our suffering, and this is why. Christ’s grace will not come to us in our earthly victories, but in our earthly defeats.
Lord, Your grace is sufficient for me. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer