My Grace is Sufficient

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.  So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

“I am tired.” “I am weary.” “I am over these masks.” “I want to see things go back to normal.” Most recently, “It’s the new normal.” These are some of the statements that we’re hearing in this season of our lives. As we face different times, we quite often find ourselves going through a progression of emotions, which seem to involve fear, pride, frustration, and anger, just to name a few. Even in your own family, each person might be coping and handling this year differently or even at a different pace. The last time I experienced this uncertain, weird time was the unknown of “Y2K”, which ended up being nothing and the world didn’t come to an end as we know it. The fear and uncertainty of that time didn’t happen when we expected it, but now has twenty years later. But rest assured, in a time of uncertainty, one thing is certain, God is sovereign! As a church and believers in Christ Jesus, we sometimes find ourselves not knowing how to respond to times like this. None of us have gone through anything like this, but so often we need to be reminded of God’s faithfulness in times of uncertainty. 

Back in 2008, our family was blessed with the opportunity to serve the beautiful people in Guadalajara, Mexico for a couple of years, with the role of supporting local pastors and churches in sharing the gospel and discipleship opportunities. To this day, Katie and I cherish the time we spent in Guadalajara and so often talk about returning to visit our brothers and sisters in Christ someday. One of the pastors that we had the opportunity to work with while we were there was Pastor Antonio Miranda and his lovely family. He and his family had been serving at a local church for about five years when we started attending there weekly. Pastor Antonio and the people were so gracious and loving to my family during this time, even as we stumbled through our conversations in spanish. Quite often, Pastor Antonio and another missionary, David Haynes, and I would meet for lunch for a time of planning, encouragement, and prayer. At one particular comida, Pastor Antonio opened up to us and shared about his weariness and frustration with the local church body he pastored. Pastor Antonio revealed that he was considering leaving the church because he couldn’t hardly get any church members to serve outside of the church doors. Looking for counsel and maybe even affirmation with these thoughts of leaving, I’ll never forget what wise counsel David shared with this brother-in-Christ that day. David said, “Brother, did you diligently pray about being the pastor of this church?” Pastor Antonio, “Yes!” David simply replied, “Brother, have you diligently prayed to leave it?” Pastor Antonio didn’t even have to answer the question, his countenance said it all. His weariness and personal difficulties within the church were so frustrating, he was on the brink of giving up on this church and getting out of this frustrating situation.

Many of us, including myself, so often feel like Pastor Antonio. We find ourselves asking the Lord to show himself in our troubling and difficult situations. Over time, our lack of patience seems to grow thin. As time goes on, we start letting our lack of trust in God affect our thoughts and wise discernment. We start allowing our frustrating circumstances of this world to take our eyes off Christ. In turn, when our eyes are off Christ, we try to do things on our own and we let our emotions take over. Paul addressed the issues and trials one will face in his letter to the church of Corinth.

In 2 Corinthians 12, as Paul has experienced a revelation of the Lord, he is humbly reminded of who he is before God and how he is to live his life. First, in looking at his own salvation, Paul says that he has nothing to boast about. He is actually reminded that our boasting is in God’s grace alone! It isn’t his knowledge, gifts, or talents that allows Paul to come before God, it is in Christ alone. 

Second, Paul shares how we should live in the midst of this fallen world with an enemy like Satan. Paul shares that because of our enemy and living in a fallen world, we will have thorns or issues in our life. Paul is no different than we are, as we often ask the Lord to take away our “thorns” or answer them quickly. This is often where we miss what the Lord is doing in us. Paul reminds us that we will go through times like these. It’s when we humbly come to a point of realizing that we are weak and in utter dependence on God, the power of Christ Jesus shines most! Paul even shares that we should take pleasure in [our] weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in [our] difficulties. Who wants to take pleasure in going through frustrating and difficult times? Paul reminds us, for the sake of Christ, we should! Our pleasure comes when we boast in the name of Jesus, what He’s done for us, for the rest of the world to see. Look around! We’re all going through these times together. It’s how we respond differently that boasts the name of Christ Jesus and makes us stand apart.

On that day, as we sat down to share a meal, God graciously reminded all of us in our weakness, Christ is strong. Pastor Antonio was reminded that his salvation was because of Christ alone. God had called Pastor Antonio with the privilege to serve and shepherd God’s church. The lack of movement or expectations of the people in the church was causing my brother to be frustrated, run out of patience, and make an emotional decision that he had not really prayed about. Pastor Antonio and his family did eventually get called to serve in another capacity in Mexico as a seminary teacher, but not before he saw multiple bible studies begin the following year and he helped disciple multiple new leaders within the church. These same bible studies continue to thrive today and impact the community. 

As for the leaders in the church, one of the leaders attended seminary with a calling to pastor a church. His family are faithfully serving the Lord Jesus Christ in Guadalajara. So, be encouraged and trust in the Lord during this difficult and challenging time. Even though it might not seem like it, God is in control. As we go through this time, my prayer is that God’s people will boast the name of Jesus to the world and will do it with a joyful heart.