In 2 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul writes that he was given a “thorn in the flesh” by God to prevent him from becoming arrogant. He asked the Lord three times to remove it and the Lord would not. The following verse was the Lord’s answer to Paul:
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
Grace! It cannot be touched or held in your hand. It is not an object to be observed or measured. A common definition is the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. But this statement from the Lord to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you,” what does this mean? When we are hurting or tormented or placed in some undesirable circumstance for which there is no way out, how do we lay hold of this grace?
In my life, there have been four areas where I have encountered this grace.
Through the Body
By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:35 Through fellowship groups, Bible study groups, and accountability partners, I have received encouragement, I have been specifically upheld in prayer, and I have had tangible needs met. God’s sufficient grace has been bestowed on me through others within the body of Christ.
His Truth – the Quickening of His Word in which is Hidden in our Heart
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28 By filling my mind with His Word, I have a solid foundation for my life so that even if the framework breaks down, I am securely anchored.
The Leadership of His Spirit
Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right of to the left. – Isaiah 30:21 The Holy Spirit does clearly speak into my heart and mind; I have only to ask Him and to listen for His direction.
A Special Dispensation of His Presence
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 There have been times when the Lord has dispensed a special measure of His presence and peace upon me through prayer.
Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:10
In closing, I want to share the account of Thomas Haukes from Fox’s Book of Martyrs.* I am encouraged that the same grace that was this brother’s sufficiency is also afforded to me and to you.
Mr. Thomas Haukes, with six others, were condemned on the 9th of February, 1555. In education he was erudite; in person, comely and of good stature; in manners, a gentleman, and a sincere Christian. A little before death, several of Mr. H’s. friends, terrified by the sharpness of the punishment he was going to suffer, privately desired that in the midst of the flames he would show them some token, whether the pains of burning were so great that a man might not collectedly endure it. This he promised to do; and it was agreed, that if the rage of the pain might he suffered, then he should lift up his hands above his head towards heaven, before he gave up the ghost.
Not long after, Mr. Haukes was led away to the place appointed for slaughter, by lord Rich, and being come to the stake, mildly and patiently prepared himself for the fire, having a strong chain cast about his middle, with a multitude of people on every side compassing him about. Unto whom after he had spoken many things, and poured out his soul unto God, the fire was kindled.
When he had continued long in it, and his speech was taken away by violence of the flame, his skin drawn together, and his fingers consumed with the fire, so that it was thought that he was gone, suddenly and contrary to all expectation, this good man being mindful of his promise, reached up his hands burning in flames over his head to the living God, and with great rejoicings as it seemed, struck or clapped them three times together. A great shout followed this wonderful circumstance, and then this blessed martyr of Christ, sinking down in the fire, gave up his spirit, June 10, 1555.