We are bombarded daily by advertisements of products that promise to do this or that for us. Such advertisements guarantee that their product is exactly what we are looking for and it would be foolish to pass up such an offer. However, most of us know that often these products fall short of how they were first presented. If you read reviews of customers, you will often find complaints that the product did not perform as promised.
The apostle Paul had a problem of some nature that troubled him his entire life. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul calls it a “thorn in the flesh.” Scholars debate over what this thorn was but there is no consensus. What we do know, however, is that Paul prayed to God repeatedly to remove it from his life. This “thorn” had brought discomfort, pain, and anxiety into Paul’s life. His desire was to live without it. Thus, he prayed to God to take it away.
God did respond to Paul’s prayer, but God did not remove the thorn that he prayed about. Paul records God’s response to his prayers is 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” We have all worn out our knees praying to God to change a situation in our lives and make right what we feel has gone wrong. Like Paul, we know what our thorns in the flesh are that daily torment us, sometimes leaving us down and out, exhausted, and weary. At times it feels as though we are living on empty, our spiritual gas tanks are dry, and we are uncertain how much more we can take.
In response to Paul’s prayer, God offers his grace. Grace, which God promises to be sufficient for his living with the thorn. While Paul would still struggle with the thorn in his flesh, God promised to Paul His grace, power, and strength. God strength would be perfect when Paul’s strength was gone. Paul would not have to live his life dependent upon his own strength alone, but God would be present with him to strengthen him to face whatever crisis came his way.
God offers this same promise to each of us. God does not promise us problem free lives, but God does promise to be present with us in the messiness of life with his grace; grace which is sufficient for our every need. God’s strength is perfect when our strength is gone. God carries us when we feel as though we cannot carry on. God’s strength lifts us up and enables us to press forward through whatever challenges we face. We simply must trust in God’s promise.