Standing on the Promise of Grace

In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul shares how God gifted him with incredible visions and revelations. In one instance, Paul was caught up in paradise. Whether in the body or out of the body, he couldn’t say, but it happened. Chosen by God to sow the gospel into the hearts of the gentiles, God revealed amazing things to Paul that might have caused Paul to grow conceited. 

So to keep Paul on the humble side, God allowed a thorn in his flesh, but what that thorn consisted of is not clear. Some presume the thorn was demonic, based on Paul’s addendum that the thorn existed as “a messenger of Satan” sent to harass him. Others designate the thorn as a physical ailment or illness since it was a thorn “in his flesh.” 

Whatever the thorn entailed, it’s safe to say it was intense. In this verse the word “thorn” isn’t referring to a tiny splinter like we might get when spreading landscaping mulch but is reminiscent of a long stake or tent peg. Ouch! And no, thank you. 

In 2 Corinthians 12:8 Paul tells us he pleaded with God three times to take the thorn away, which may literally mean three specific occasions of prayer or it could be a euphemism for pleading with God a lot. Paul wanted that thing gone, and I don’t blame him. But God didn’t take it away. Instead, God responded to Paul’s prayers with this, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12: 9). 

No, Paul, I will not take it away. My grace is sufficient for you. 

I’ve read that verse many times, but I’m not sure I’ve ever stopped to meditate on it. This verse is a promise from God that His undeserved favor and goodness and kindness dispensed over Paul is enough for Paul not just to endure this tent peg-sized thorn but to find gladness in it. With God’s grace, Paul could still thrive under affliction (and would thrive more) as God shined brighter through Paul’s persistent weakness.

The Truth about Grace 

Through much suffering Paul gained the secret to contentment. Writing to the Philippians, he said, “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11–13).

How did Christ strengthen Paul? Through the ever-flowing endowment of God’s grace—His measureless and satisfying and empowering divine favor gifted to us through Christ’s powerful presence at all times. 

Do you know what this means? It means no matter what we endure, no matter how hard or exhausting the situation, God promises that His grace is more than enough for us to bathe in joy and contentment right now, no matter what we’re facing. We can endure hard things, and we can endure them well because of God’s grace. 

Grace isn’t just the avenue by which we gain salvation; grace is the platform in which we thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually until the day we eternally experience that salvation. 

We are called by grace (Gal. 1:15). We are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8). We are sustained by grace (2 Cor. 12:9). And we look forward to more grace at Christ’s return (1 Pet. 1:13). All through eternity, we will experience the immeasurable riches of God’s grace (Eph. 2:7). 

In the meantime, we can fall away from grace (Gal. 5:4), or we can grow in grace (2 Pet. 3:18); the choice is up to us. We can also pray for an extension of grace over one another (2 Pet. 1:2). And we can gain more grace by living humbly before God (James 4:6), for God is the keeper of all grace (1 Pet. 5:10). 

The Power of Grace 

For too long, I’ve underestimated the power of God’s grace in my life, viewing it mostly as God’s kindness toward me through salvation and forgiveness. But according to Scripture, I need to widen my view.

Grace isn’t just waiting to catch me when I fall; grace is available to empower me so I don’t fall. Christ said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.” In other words, Paul didn’t need Jesus to remove that unwanted thorn to live victoriously—Paul simply needed Jesus. Christ’s presence in us is God’s grace for living. 

When the last thing you want to do is submit to your husband—God’s grace is sufficient for you. 

When you have zero patience remaining to care for those kids—God’s grace is sufficient for you. 

When you have no idea how to face that doctor’s appointment—God’s grace is sufficient for you. 

When you get out of bed in the morning and instantly hurt all over, everywhere—God’s grace is sufficient for you. 

When your business fails, your dreams crumble, and all you see is failure—God’s grace is sufficient for you. 

When you fall prey to that sin you hate all over again—God’s grace is sufficient for you. 

When you’ve been wronged and feel nothing but anger—God’s grace is sufficient for you. 

God doesn’t just give us salvation; He gives us Himself. Wholly and abundantly and perfectly, without hesitation or restraint, Christ says, “Here I am, and I am more than enough. My grace is sufficient for you.”

The Necessity of Grace 

Do you need more grace? God says all we need to do is ask. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). We waste a lot of energy trying to figure out life on our own when God promises there is always grace when we need it. 

Grace to love my husband when I don’t feel like it. 
Grace to serve my kids when I’m tired. 
Grace for the offense and grace for the offended. 
Grace for the sick and grace to help the sick. 
Grace for the shamed and grace not to shame. 

God’s grace doesn’t just cover us; it empowers us. 

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). 

We need God’s grace like we need food and water. We need it to fill and refresh us as we plunge ourselves into the well that never runs dry. The beauty of drinking deeply of this well (and not another) is that God gets the glory as His power is made perfect through our weaknesses. 

If you’ve been praying for God to remove a particular thorn, yet still your problem remains, perhaps it’s to experience the sufficiency of God’s sustaining and empowering grace. Don’t let discouragement overwhelm you; try praying for more grace instead. Have faith in God’s abundant favor and take God at His promise. 

God didn’t save us only to leave us empty-handed. But every time we ignore the Holy Spirit, set aside God’s Word, and choose our ways over His, we live as though we’re empty-handed. If you long to experience God’s grace but aren’t sure where to begin, start with humility. There’s a continuous outpouring of grace upon grace for those who seek refuge in Christ. 

Beloved, I can’t blame you for wanting that thorn removed, but even if God chooses to let it remain, there is the promise of grace to get you through. God’s banner over you is love, and His provision is never lacking. “He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you” (2 Cor. 13:3). Yes, even you. 

So go ahead and stand on the promise of grace. No matter what this day brings, you already have what you need because you have Jesus, and His divine favor is sufficient for you.

About the Author

Stacey Salsbery

Stacey Salsbery

Stacey Salsbery is a farmer’s wife and mother of four—or as she likes to say, “President of Home Operations.” Stacey loves teaching women the Bible and along with her family makes her home in the cornfields of Indiana. For more, … read more …

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