God’s Grace is sufficient for us in all situations. Paul writes about a “thorn in the flesh” which is given to keep him from exalting himself. While we do not know exactly what Paul experiences – whether it be persecution, or physical deformity, or a temptation – we know that it causes Paul great suffering throughout his life. Of course, Paul brings his thorn to the Lord and asks Him to take it away. Paul does not welcome this thorn, he wants to be rid of it! But the Lord does a curious thing in response. He leaves Paul with the thorn, and answers Paul’s fervent prayer by reminding Paul of His Grace. God tells Paul, “My Grace is sufficient for you.”
This is a difficult lesson. While we should not blame the Lord for the suffering we experience as a result of living in a fallen world, we may wonder why God doesn’t use His Sovereignty to take away all suffering completely. We know that sometimes He hears the cries of His people and responds by rescuing them from harm, while other times, as in Paul’s case, He leaves “thorns” there.
God may not always remove our suffering or remove us from suffering, but He always provides His Grace which provides relief in the presence of suffering. How is Grace sufficient for us? It keeps us near to the One Who loves us unconditionally, and provides all that we need to withstand that which burdens us. While God may not remove burdens we bear, He Himself comes underneath them with us to bring relief from what we otherwise carry by ourselves. This amazing Grace that Paul receives not only strengthens him to endure living with this thorn, but also displays God’s Strength as He sustains Paul in his weakness. By the Grace of God, Paul’s thorn becomes a way that he is constantly reminded of His dependence on his Lord.
We might wonder where we would be without the trials we experience. That is neither here nor there. What we do know is that we would be lost without God’s Grace to us. This is a far more profound thought to ponder. For His Grace which was such that Jesus gave His life has saved us for eternity, and is sufficient in every situation.