In our last Heart to Heart article we began a look into what it means to find strength in the midst of our weakness.  One thing that will help us is coming to realize just what our weakness really is.  The word of God calls it the flesh.  It’s our natural abilities, determination, will power, natural perspective and wisdom – anything we think, do or try apart from the Spirit of the Lord.  Paul said we are to put no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3).  Paul then goes on to list his natural pedigree and accomplishments of his own abilities, to which in view of knowing Christ, he counts them all as loss . . . as trash, rubbish ( . . . dung – we get the picture).  Through the flesh we cannot produce an acceptable righteousness and genuine relationship with the Lord, nor can we experience true peace in our life’s journey, because the flesh is weak and incapable of producing or obtaining it.

Some people have said that God expects us to chip in and do our part.  Afterall, God helps those who help themselves . . . right?  I used to believe that when we would come to the point of our weakness we should turn to the Lord and He would step in and take up the slack.  But we don’t come to a point of weakness . . . but to a realization of weakness.  We were weak all along because the flesh has always been weak.  We need Jesus every moment of every day.  We will never be determined enough, or smart enough, or committed enough in our own abilities to impress God and handle whatever this life around us brings.  And the good news is that the Lord never expected that from us . . . but we mistakenly have expected it of ourselves, it is the lie of legalism and religion that somehow make us believe that our efforts can fix our own lives and please God in the process.

Now let’s look a moment at Paul’s encounter with the Lord regarding the thorn in the flesh he was given, the messenger of satan to torment him (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).  He implored the Lord three times and the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made complete in weakness.”  Sometimes we have made the key focus of this passage the wrong thing.  Many have debated and argued about what the thorn in the flesh was, whether it was something spiritual, or something natural, or even a debilitating eye disease.  I’m not implying that it’s not important, but it should not be what we fixate on.  Why argue and speculate about something and miss the certainty of the main point and truth – which is, God’s grace is sufficient!

When whatever Paul was facing brought a realization of his weakness, God did in fact answer him . . .  with grace!  The Lord doesn’t tell us to try harder and work it out on our own.  He shows us that it’s in our realization of our weakness (the flesh) that grace can show off God’s strength (the Spirit).

God’s answer for whatever overwhelms us and for our natural inability to deal with it has and always will be the empowerment of His life in and through us by the Holy Spirit – and that only comes by grace.  So if you are at that point you just feel beat down, hurt, disqualified, confused, whatever it may be . . . don’t try harder.  Instead, choose grace – it is sufficient!  Only grace gives us what we need, and grace is about what Jesus has done through sacrifice, not what we add through our effort.  Jesus knows our hidden hurts and pains, the cares and worries we hold on to, scars we carry, regrets we maintain – He sees all that stuff we so often try to work out and fix on our own.  He says to cast them all on Him, because He cares for us.  He is right here with us – He will never leave us or forsake us!

So may we, even as Paul, be well content in weaknesses, insults, distresses, persecutions and difficulties.  We are not left powerless and weak because of our inabilities, on the contrary we experience the all-sufficiency of God that grace gives.  It is just an opportunity for the Spirit to show off the strength of grace and the power of living loved!

Love in Jesus,

Pastor David Hughes