2 Corinthians 12:2-10
John Nash won the 1994 Nobel Prize in economics, a
remarkable achievement for a life often in turmoil by listening to
the voices of a troubled past. At the Nobel presentation, Nash
described his journey through the “physical, metaphysical, delusional
and back.” His greatest discovery was that the depth of life was
found “in the equation of love” he experienced with his wife.
Our days are a mix of bright sun soon darkened by
storm clouds. We experience excitement and joy in moments of
achievement and soon plunge into the depression of defeat. The
Apostle Paul knew these extremes of life. He spoke of being “caught up
into Paradise and heard inexpressible words” (vv. 1-4). He warned
against boasting about such experiences – probably because most
people would not understand, become jealous, or distance themselves in
fear of fanaticism. Paul knew the visions were the exception, “above
what he sees me to be and hears from me” (v.6). In contrast to
heavenly visions Paul experienced an earthly “thorn in the flesh.”
We’re not sure what it was, only that it worked to “buffet” Paul,
lest he “be exalted above measure” (v.7).
Paul “pleaded with the Lord” to remove the thorn,
but it didn’t happen. Most of us have been in that position, maybe
still there. We need to move to the higher level of discovering
sufficient grace for living – either with or without a thorn. It
takes the same grace to live with the visions. This grace for living
is discovered in an “equation of love” that is found in our
relationship with Christ.
Weakness plus prayer equals sufficient grace (v.8)
How do we cope with weakness and infirmities? An
old hymn advises us to “take it to the Lord in prayer.” James said,
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray” (5:13). In prayer we
look beyond the situation to the sufficiency of God. The Father loves
us and eagerly seeks to bestow his grace upon us. We may not know why
that thorn is present but we can take the problem to the One who “works
in all things for the good of those who love Him, those who are
called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Practice Philippians
4:6 and sufficient grace will not be far behind.
Weakness plus Christ’s power equals sufficient grace (v. 9)
The mindset of corporate success is often the
possession of personal power and strength that propels a person to
the pinnacle of leadership. How radically different is the approach
of Jesus – strength made perfect in weakness. Driven to our knees by
infirmities we realize how little power we actually have. Dependent
on Him, in weakness we discover the “exceeding greatness of His power
toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power
which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated
Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:19-20). Christ
went from the darkness of the tomb to the brilliance of heaven. His
power is adequate to deal with all the extremes of life we will ever
Weakness plus faith equals sufficient grace (v.10)
Faith in the Father revealed in Jesus Christ
accepts all of life. Can you “take pleasure in infirmities”?
Sufficient grace is the result of learning “in whatever state I am,
to be content” (Phil. 4:11). Paul asked the Corinthians to “examine
yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do
you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cor. 13:5).
Live by faith. Christ in us is sufficient grace.
The depth of life is found in an “equation of
love.” The love of God the Father experienced through the grace of
the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the way Paul ended his letter to the
Corinthians (13:14); that’s the only way to live.
Sermon brief provided
by: Bill Whittaker, President, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College,