2 Corinthians 12:8-10 New International Version
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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. 10 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.
Paul was a man who communed closely with God. In 2nd Corinthians chapter 12, Paul writes about this very thing.
In the previous verses he tells us that he had a “thorn in the flesh” and in verse 8 he reveals that he prayed to God three times for it to be removed.
God answered him, but His answer was no. The “thorn in the flesh” would remain with Paul.
Remember God answers prayer in one of three ways. Yes, no, or not now.
It appears that God spoke to Paul, however we do not know how God presented Himself to Paul in this instance. It is clear from other experiences of Paul that he communed with God in different ways than most. Physically on the road to Damascus and a mysterious way when he was transported to the third heaven.
Here we see that God answers Paul by saying no and telling him that “My grace is sufficient for you.”
These are some of the most important six words in the Bible. “My grace is sufficient for you.”
Paul’s request was not granted in the way that he presented it and wanted it to be. However, Paul does receive the assurance of God’s grace to support him in his trial and affliction.
These verses provide us with a very important lesson regarding prayer.
It speaks to us what we already know and that is the fact that all of our prayers will not be answered with a “yes.” God does say no from time to time, even to the most spiritual believer like the Apostle Paul.
Other examples are found where the prayers of the believer are not answered in the affirmative.
David Prays For A Child To Live
David’s sins had been forgiven, but his prayer in 2nd Samuel 12:16-20 was not answered in the manner that he petitioned God.
The child died even though David prayed fervently for it to live.
2 Samuel 12:16-20 NIV
16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth[a] on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.
18 On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”
19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.
Christ Prayed That The Cup of Suffering Be Removed
Christ prayed in the garden of Gethsemane that the cup of suffering be removed from Him. We know that it was not to be removed and Jesus must die on the cross.
Mark 14:32-36 NIV
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,[a] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
So, when God tells us “My grace is sufficient for thee”, He knows that this is a better answer for us than saying yes to our prayer. As he was telling Paul, He also tells us, that He will support us through our trials and we have nothing to fear.
Paul’s affliction was not removed, but he had the assurance of the favor of God, the support of God and the grace of God. In other words, Paul would be able to bear his afflictions and trials because God will provide the strength and grace needed to get through them.
This gives us the knowledge and assurance that God will see us safely through our own afflictions and trials. In this we can rejoice.
We have the promise of God that we will be provided strength and grace to deal with our burdens, afflictions and trials.
As difficult as it might be to understand, God helps believers gain through their trials and afflictions. God says that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. This is where His grace is poured upon us like a soothing ointment through the Holy Spirit. As He provide His grace, He gives us strength, peace, comfort and contentment.
Through our trials, our light can shine even more brightly to our small circle of the world. Just as the Apostle Paul, we can be a beacon of hope and encouragement, as well as a witness to the power and grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
His grace is truly sufficient.