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Humble: Who supplies the power?

The apostle Paul was in a hard place and had been praying desperately for deliverance when God spoke directly to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a ESV)

These words turned the light on for Paul. His situation was not going to change. Yet, rather than to chafe under the duress and to seek escape from his problems, Paul began to exult in (or, to boast in) his weakness, declaring, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in (or, rest upon) me” (12:9b NASB).

Paul had come to understand that by acknowledging and admitting his own weaknesses he was releasing God’s power in the situation. Although the situation would not change, God’s glory would be revealed, which Paul understood to be the purpose for which he had been created by God and redeemed in Christ — as have we.

Paul went on to assert, “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” (12:10 NASB)

You and I might say, “Well, that was the great apostle, but I’m not able to do that.” Right! We are not able. Neither was the apostle.

It was not Paul’s ability that enabled him to exult and glory in weaknesses and problems. The sufficient grace of God enabled Paul to be content and even “to boast” in his weaknesses.

It is God’s grace that will enable you and I also to acknowledge our own weaknesses and to boast in them so that God will work and will be glorified through us.

I am not writing this as an exercise in Biblical theology. I am writing out of my own need, sometimes distress, in these challenging times. “It’s me, it’s me, oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer,” and of God’s grace.

Moving into a different season of life, including selling our home, moving in with our children and becoming more dependent on others in new ways, has had its challenges for me. Unusual activities and stress have triggered physical discomfort.

Added to that, the uncertainties that have been unleashed with the outbreak of Covid-19 and the confusion of responses and attitudes that people are exhibiting sometimes are debilitating and depressing.

My heart is torn open by the condition of so many young folks that I know and love and by the choices they have made as we reap in continuing measure the fruit of the tragic breakdown of the family, of the sexual revolution, and of the horrible drive to define individual identity.

Regarding our nation’s history of racial and ethnic sins, not only toward those of African descent but also toward Native Americans, Asians and Hispanics, it seems that the “chickens are coming home to roost.” This has opened to door to anarchists, many of whom appear to be mindless tools of people intent on tearing down the way of life we have known.

I find it easy to lash out at the evident corruption of some politicians and the ineptitude of many more who not only are showing themselves unwilling and unable to deal with our current social turmoil, but who also continue to make economic decisions that are driving our government and nation toward bankruptcy.

Then I remember it is we the citizens who have elected these people based on their promises to meet our needs rather than on their character and ability to lead. We have elected “leaders” who reflect who we are and what we value as individuals and as a people. Now, that’s a troubling thought.

Many of you will identify with these distresses and more besides. So, what shall we do? Shall we weep and wail? Shall we lash out in anger — all too often at those we love most — or shall we pull back into shells of depression? 

No! Where we have fallen short already, let us confess and repent.

Let us remember the promise,

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (1 Cor 10:13 (NASB))

Now is our time to make the choice Paul made—to admit our weaknesses, indeed, to exult in our weaknesses and so make room for God’s power to intervene. In doing so we will prove his grace to be sufficient to enable our lives to give him glory!

I declare, God’s grace is sufficient for me!

“Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,

Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;

Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,

All-sufficient grace for even me!

Broader than the scope of my transgressions,

Greater far than all my sin and shame;

Oh, magnify the precious Name of Jesus,

Praise His Name!”

Haldor Lillenas, “Wonderful Grace of Jesus”

Steve Humble has been an elder at Winchester Covenant Church since its beginning in 1991. He can be reached at 771-7138 or by email at steve.humble@twc.com.