“The Lord rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble. The Lord helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in him.”- Psalm 37:39-40, NLT
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.
God is 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 Him, the Lord.
All of this makes God’s preferred method of showing off his power rather strange. God’s grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect…
…in our weakness.
…in our brokenness.
…in our weariness.
GOD’S POWER IS GREATEST WHEN WE’RE AT OUR WEAKEST.
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, NIV)
This is one of those scriptural “double take”. 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 that His grace is sufficient and His 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 always a dramatic deliverance.
This seems so backward from how the world operates. We like to show off our strength. To act like we’ve got it all together. But this is the opposite of God. His power is made perfect in weakness.
And 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?” Here’s why…
- It 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 all on my own through all the means I had at my disposal. All my efforts led me to the finish line!
Really? Did I make it all by myself? of course not! 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 health, wealth and family.
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.
- It Shines a Spotlight on God’s Power
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”.
However, God’s grace IS sufficient. God is “Omni-sufficient”. Sufficiency and strength and power course through His very being and He is able to keep me through the bleakest struggles.
When I’m up against the wall, I can only cry out, “God, only your grace is sufficient to sustain me!” And when He delivers me, his power, not mine, is put on full display.
- It Highlights the Glory of His Deliverance
God loves to deliver His people when the stakes are highest and the odds are the worst. God wouldn’t let Gideon use 30,000 or 3,000 men. He whittled his army down to a measly 300 men, making the odds of victory so unfathomably small that only God could bring deliverance- Judges 7:1-7
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 – 1 Samuel 17:32-51
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.
- 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?
These are difficult questions to answer. After all God is not so capricious as to deliberately create problems for His people. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that His people can have the confidence that He alone is their hope.
As God leads me through the “valley of the shadow of death” I trust in Him alone as I cling to His sufficient grace and give up the ludicrous charade that I can do it alone.
- It Deepens Our Trust in God
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with planning for the future, it’s easy for us to fall into the temptation of trusting in our own understanding rather than God’s sufficient grace.
I think this is why Proverbs 3:5 exhorts us to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not to lean on our own understanding. When we lean on our own understanding, we are failing to trust God, whose power and ability to deliver are far beyond our understanding.
When God does intervene and rescues us, it becomes abundantly clear to us that it was not due to our magnificent strategizing, but His glorious, sufficient grace.
Let Us Lean on God With All Our Weight
As 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 is 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.
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