In our worst times, they cut almost as deep as the wound itself, and at best, they are cold comfort to a soul wreathing in heartache. You’ve heard them. I’ve heard them. And we’ve recited them to others when we are at a loss for words that adequately address the situation.
“God is in control.”
“Let go and let God handle it.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
“Time heals all wounds.”
“This is only temporary.”
“You’ll come out of this so much stronger.”
All true. All glazed over like a college graduate being taught the alphabet. From a Biblical perspective, what do ANY of those actually mean? So many times, we water down the care of our own hearts and the well-being of others’ to the lowest common denominator gospel. Finding it easier to cherry-pick seemingly surface level quotes or verses, we disregard the authentic power behind them. It is wreaking havoc on our souls. If only we understood God’s grace in the context of the scriptures and passages we so readily quote… maybe then we would find the true God waiting there for us with open arms. What is our response when we fully grasp that God is sufficient for every moment?
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Merriam-Webster defines sufficient as “enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end”. Notice that it does not say there is a lack of enough. Nor does it state that sufficient equates to over-abundance. It is quite simply “enough.” It is having the exact change you need to pay a toll. Oh, how grateful we are in that moment: if for no other reason than it being enough to pass. And oh, how we would disregard that moment if we had more than necessary to pay. And oh, how that moment would be smothered in shame, disgust, or grieving had there not been enough. Only in the case of sufficiency do we recognize those moments for how they reveal our humanity and spring up a well of gratefulness that provides infinitely more than the over-abundance ever could.
Paul’s bouts with God’s sufficiency were all too real and prevalent. In the verses prior to the above passage, Paul describes a “thorn” in his flesh, which continually tormented him. Its sole purpose was to keep him from becoming conceited and boasting in himself rather than God. It is only after pleading with God 3 times to have it removed that God responds with what we in our day would equate to cold comfort. “My grace is sufficient.” God’s grace was enough to meet the needs of Paul’s situation. It was not more than was needed, lest Paul boast in his own efforts. Nor was it less than was necessary, lest Paul lack the strength to carry out his purpose.
Imagine if we could obtain any desired ends purely through our own efforts. John 15:5 clearly speaks to this. “…apart from me, you can do nothing.” Wow. So, ends we reach apart from God’s sufficiency are essentially vapor. They accomplish nothing of any discernible meaning. Far from being disheartening, this is one of the most powerful concepts to grasp in our lives. For those in Christ, the weight has been lifted! We, quite literally, NEED God’s sufficiency. Anything accomplished with eternal impacts is cloaked in this reality.
So instead of relying on God to come through for us at the end of our effort, we can rejoice in the fact that just by remaining in Him we can accomplish, sustain, and withstand infinitely more. His grace is sufficient. When we grasp that we have all that we need for each and every moment, we will realize that every second of our earthly existence is covered in grace… from the traumatic, to the tormenting, to the mundane.
And not only that, if God’s power is only perfectly displayed within the bounds of weakness, dare we even think about what that means for God’s power in other circumstances? Praise God for our weakness? Really? Absolutely. Oh, but for the grace of God, we would butcher the world in violent pursuit away from what ultimately saves us. Grace changes EVERYTHING.
Let us stand in confidence and assurance of all things eternal. His grace is sufficient.. for this moment… then for the next moment… and for the next. And ONLY at the ends of ourselves will we find the PERFECT display of God’s power. Anything less robs God of the glory and diminishes His purposes through our lives.
Maybe those platitudes, when properly understood, are the perfect examples of God’s power and grace.