1 & 2 Corinthians: Day 39

Sufficient Grace


Today's Text: 2 Corinthians 12:1-21, Mark 14:32-36, Philippians 4:10-13

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:1-21, Mark 14:32-36, Philippians 4:10-13

It was just a common cold, then an infection, and then another infection from the antibiotics the doctors had given me to fight the first infection. Then, after being in bed for a week, my lower back started to hurt. To add insult to injury, I cracked one of my molars on a seed in my bread, and ended up having to get a root canal. For four weeks it was one thing after another. I don’t get sick often, so this debilitating month was like an object lesson in the absolute frailty of my body. Nothing was really related to anything else; it was just a perfect cluster of unfortunate events all smashed up against one another.

I don’t know about you, but I can manage a simple cold. I can even manage a tweaked back. But when all the world seems to conspire against me when I simply get out of bed, eat anything harder than yogurt, or I’m on my third round of antibiotics in a month—well, I begin to despair. In that moment, I couldn’t remember what it felt like to be well, let alone remember what it felt like to be cheerful or whole or able to manage anything. I felt like a walking mistake.

Have you ever felt like that?

Maybe it’s not physical for you; maybe it’s emotional. Or maybe it is physical, but to an extent that makes my month of maladies seem like a walk in the park. Perhaps it’s mental or spiritual—I don’t know. But I do know that sometimes God’s grace does not feel sufficient for my weakness. Nothing about me, or Him for that matter, seems sufficient in days and weeks and months like these.

Yet, in 2 Corinthians 12, Paul lists the weaknesses in which he finds contentment: insults, hardships, persecution, and calamities, not to mention the thorn in his flesh God hasn’t removed. Paul is not saying these things don’t exist or that they aren’t hard. He isn’t putting on a brave face or being courageous in the midst of difficulty. He’s not even saying it’s okay to simply accept the thorn as it is. No, he begs God to remove it. But, in the midst of all this very real pain and difficulty, Paul’s contentment is not in his ability to weather the storm, bear the pain, or be brave. His contentment is in the sufficiency of God’s grace.

When I’m struggling with anything, I want to find contentment in God’s sovereign ability to change everything in an instant, to heal what is broken right now, to right what is wrong. What I don’t want to be contented with is simply walking through the difficulty—be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual—in the knowledge that His grace is sufficient, that He is bearing this with me, and He hears me. And even if He hasn’t answered my prayer according to my wishes, He is still sufficient for me in my weakness, emptiness, pain, and sorrow.

Paul’s words to the Corinthians in this passage remind me that sometimes God doesn’t change our circumstances, not one bit. But He does change our hearts in the midst of everything, making us more like Him. Jesus’ words to Paul and to the Corinthians are a promise to us as well:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”
—2 Corinthians 12:9


Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, and tweets and instagrams at @lorewilbert. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.

  • KC Derond

    Sometimes I feel lousy for always asking God to change my circumstances, but then I read a passage like the one in Mark where even Jesus Himself prayed that His circumstances be changed! The difference being that I forget to add that it be done according to God’s will, not mine. That’s the part I struggle with. May we remember to pray that our hearts and attitudes be changed according to our situations!

  • Susan Crosby

    I have experienced several family issues in the past several years. I have been reminded over and over that when things don’t go as we’d planned or hoped that God is always with me whether I am feeling quite confident in my unwavering faith or if my constant prayer is Lord I Need Grace To Make It. Today’s study was exceptional and a reminder that God’s Grace is sufficient for me!

  • I loved this. It’s a truth that is much harder to grasp than I think most of us would anticipate. This past November I was hospitalized for what we found to be numerous blood clots in my lungs. It all happened very quickly; I remember waking up on a Wednesday feeling like I had slept wrong, and then two days later being rushed to the emergency room because I couldn’t breathe. And all the while I prayed and prayed and prayed for God to take the pain away and heal me. When we found out my life was at risk I was so overcome with anger. I couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t heal me. But now, months later, I’ve been able to see what God was doing. When they told me I might die, I remember being absolutely terrified. I wasn’t ready to die. And I’ve ALWAYS been the one to say that I’m not afraid to die because I know where I’m going. But yet, there I was, facing death and not feeling ready. At all. It wasn’t until very recently that I’ve begun to see what God was doing in me. Because for months, all I could feel was anger and confusion and doubt. Now though, I can see that God provided for me in ways I didn’t know I needed. I had come to a place of not knowing God like I thought I did, to where I was terrified to die. I had such a stubborn heart that it took me facing the reality of death, for God to reach my heart. Because even though I went through a lot of pain, God still delivered me. And he taught me so much more than I could see in the moment. He heard my cry. He’s made me more like Him. He’s awoken me from a sleep that I was blinded to. My heart has been humbled and my perspective entirely changed. His love and grace are sufficient and it surpasses any understanding I could ever have. In one of my weakest moments of life, He saved me. My body was broken and very quickly breaking down, and he took the time to nurture my soul through it and bring me back to life. He gave it all for me and continues to give it all for me everyday.
    This post was so encouraging as I’m still processing all this. Such powerful truth. Thank you for sharing!

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Amy, thank you for sharing this with us. We’ll be praying for continued encouragement and comfort during this time. We’re so glad that you’re here! -Margot, The SRT Team

    • Clare

      Hi Amy, I’m almost certain you won’t see this as I’m a few days behind. Thank you for sharing this, it’s so helpful. I’m facing scans at the moment for cancer, I’m 42 and have 2 young children… It’s so helpful to see what you have written after coming through the fear and pain. It’s certainly one thing to ‘know in your head’ that Christ is all in all and another thing when you are faced with a a scary diagnosis. I will be praying for you as you walk this one out, but your story so far has encouraged me – thank you x

    • Rhonda Cottrell

      Your testimony is so encouraging! Thank you for taking the time to share.

  • Shannon Hernandez

    I’ve carried anxiety since i was 8 years old and it has only gotten worse and ive gotten older making me feel like i have failed at letting God overcome my deepest worries and fears. But when many of those worries and fears are realities of this life or have become a reality, it truly is traumatizing. And then recently (the past 9 months) ive been dealing with some physical stomach issues and add other things in top of it and i just feel like a “walking mistake” Or just a wreck that is not very attractive. But God has placed some amazing young ladies in my life to show unconditional love and support. And they have prayed with and for me and have become amazing friends and more, a representation of Christ’s love for me. What a blessing! And as the potter of our lives, He will make us beautiful, as those who know Jesus as Lord, we have a hope secure that we will one day be completely sanctified and glorified with Christ. Thankful for His grace through all of life’s struggles and blessings. Glory to our God ❤️

  • Brittany

    I know exactly what that’s like. I have been battling anxiety for the past nine eleven months. When it started I could hardly eat anything, because I was too anxious. So….. The past five months I have been working on fighting my anxiety, which is a slow battle, but it’s happening and should not be too much longer. I also have had to eat like a horse, to get my ravenous appetite back to the normal three meals a day and snack. I also have felt impatience over this long recovery process.

    • She Reads Truth

      Thanks for sharing Brittany. Our team will definitely be praying for you as you walk through this time, that you will find encouragement, peace, and direction as you trust in what God has for you. So grateful for you! -Margot, The SRT Team

  • This post was incredible! I am going through a season that looks a little bit uncertain, but instead of trying to figure out HOW, I’ll shift the letters and focus on my WHO. I don’t need to know everything right away, and following Christ is not always instant. Instant gratification can ruin relationships w God, becuase what do we do when God isn’t changing things right away? Learning about the thorn in Paul’s side is so encouraging, because like you, he learned to go through the trial, and let God’s perfect work take place so that we lack no good thing (James 1:4) Thank you so much for this post!!

    • Kristine Loughman

      Not HOW but WHO! Love this! What a great reminder when I’m feeling underwater.

  • Tara Gordon

    Amazing reading for me today. My 15 year old son was involved in a car accident March 2nd. We were called by a Sherriff’s deputy that they were life flighting him- head trauma and unresponsive. I prayed so hard on our way to the hospital over and over “God you know what I can handle. Please Lord don’t let that be tested today.” When we arrived it was unreal. My son was alert and responsive. Even the Medical Professionals couldn’t explain it. Little did we know that while we were driving to possibly see our son one last time, there was a team at our Church also praying. One specific prayer was for my son to be awake before the helicopter landed at the hospital- and that is exactly what happened! God is so VERY VERY good!

    • Bekki

      Amen! Praise God!

    • Kat Hensley

      I rejoice with you that your son is well. I want to share my story for those who the prayer was not answered. My 19 year old was in a crash and died and I still believe God is good. He carried me through the experience in a supernatural way that can’t be explained. Even when he doesn’t answer our prayers he gives us all we need. I can’t imagine going
      through life without His strength and love.

  • It is comforting to know that Paul, even though he has been through horrible physical things and seen many miracles, he is dealing with the fear of being humiliated! In verses 20 and 21 he talks about having “fear” of things and the word does mean fear in the Greek and context. Paul would know of all the times God has said “fear not”. This man of God had to still deal with fears. We all have “weaknesses “.

  • Deborah Craytor

    Thank you all for your testimony today. My daughter is really struggling right now with why God allowed her to have the disabilities she has; I’ve forwarded the link to today’s discussion to her and believe that she will be uplifted by each of you.

  • Audren B.

    God, please change my heart. i feel like i can’t do anything right and that grace applies to everyone else but myself, and when i do make a mistake that it is unforgivable. This isn’t logical or true, but i guess your grace and mercy aren’t logical either. Help me and us all to understand Your grace is absolutely drowning us and there is NOTHING that can deprive us of any and all grace, peace, joy, and Your overwhelming love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

    • Kayla

      I am praying for you, Audren. Satan tells us lies to keep us from pursuing the Lord, and they can be so believable, even when we know they aren’t logical or true! Cling to the truth that nothing separates us from the love of God!! He is faithful and just to forgive our sins if we confess!

  • Kelly Hock

    Many times in my life I have felt God change my heart to prepare me for something bigger and better… it was the heart that changed when we were called to a town for ministry… this town was my home town and I was confident that God would want us there forever… but as of recently I have been having the desire to not live here any longer. I have no real reason to have this desire. My family is here my friends are here but yet my heart is very open to a new town … what is God doing now… I don’t know but sometimes the waiting to see is hard… but I still wait and enjoy the time I have in this current place.

  • Thank you SRT for explaining passages to me that confused me. 2 weeks ago 2 Corinthians 12 was read at my church. I asked the gal beside me ” what is the 3rd heaven?” I knew this week we would be reading this passage in our study and was excited I would get a chance to ask for help with this. And I got the answer without having to ask. Thank you SRT! In addition, I didn’t realize that it was Paul talking about himself ! Makes such a difference when you know what is being said? Thankful for seekers and followers guiding and encouraging other saints. All the praise to God, may the power of Christ continue to work in us all.

    • Deborah Craytor

      Warren Wiersbe offers this explanation: “The third heaven is the same as ‘paradise,’ the
      heaven of heavens where God dwells in glory. Thanks to modern science, men
      today have visited the heaven of the clouds (we fly above the clouds) and the heav-
      en of the planets (men have walked on the moon), but man cannot get to God’s
      heaven without God’s help.”

      • Jen

        Thanks Deborah! I didn’t know the Bible spoke of this. And I only thought of it as the earth, sky and heaven.

  • Jennifer Martin

    Amen ❤️

  • Katie Dunham

    I just got home a few days ago from being at the hospital for a little over 5 weeks getting treated for Leukemia. I often did despair because all I wanted was to be home with my family and to be done getting treated, to be healed. I was supposed to go home earlier but there were little things that kept me in the hospital. It was so hard for me to trust God when it didn’t seem like he was answering me, and still is hard sometimes with all the further treatment I am going to go through. This was exactly what I needed to read today. He doesn’t want to see me in pain, but it does bring me closer to Him. He knows what He’s doing and He knows my body better than I do. When I look back on this experience so far, I can see where He has been in it. He has provided for me in so many ways. He is good. No matter how I feel. ❤️

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Katie, thanks for sharing this. We’re praying for you during this time -for comfort, peace, and healing. So grateful that you’re here reading along with us. -Margot, The SRT Team

    • Carol Pierce

      Amen! Praying for you! You will be healed by God’s intervention, or the treatments the doctors are administering or when He chooses to call you home. Cancer never wins when we belong to Christ!

    • Ogechi Umeh

      God is in control and He is with you even when you can’t see it. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. Be still and know that He is God.

    • Jessie Chatigny

      Cancer treatment is no joke. Lifting you and your support people up right.

  • Nicholle D

    We did that one back in June, too. I woke up singing the theme song in my head this morning.

  • Kristine Loughman

    As I gear up to head into a new school year in a few weeks, this is such a good reminder that He goes with me, He already knows the plan, I can rest in Him. HE is sufficient for ME! Now, to hold onto that knowledge as the back to school roller coaster gears up…

    • Kari

      Agreed Kristine! Preparing for back to school as well and I love that you related this to that. Something to save and remember this semester. Prayers for you as we get back into it!

  • This verse has been a theme for me this past year. God has stripped away anything that I could be “proud” of or find my identity in. He chopped and pruned my branches until I was a stump. And slowly now I am seeing that I am changed. Opinions of others seem to matter less. Forgiveness comes easier. Patience comes easier. In other words, the fruits from this stump are better than the full tree I was in previous seasons. So I praise God, here low to the ground, and continue to trust in the hard times that He is near and has done all this for my good. Praise Him!

    • Debbie

      Yes! Praise God! He is faithful!

    • amarose

      I love this analogy! I too feel like I’ve been in a season of pruning and while it is painful, it’s so worth it to see the beauty that God is creating out of the mess! I loved the line “God doesn’t change our circumstances, not one bit. But He does change our hearts in the midst of everything, making us more like Him.” Praise God for that because a changed heart is so much better than no suffering but remaining as I was before.

  • Jennifer

    This passage was perfect for today. There are days when we feel beaten up by the world around us and other days when we feel beaten up by our own failures, shortcomings, and sins. How God can love us amazes me. That we don’t understand the whys of things in this life can be frustrating and a struggle but we can turn to the One who truly knows what we are going through and loves us through it. “The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:7-8. He is faithful!

  • Ogechi Umeh

    This verse is so timely. It is a reminder to me that God is for me and all I need to do is trust Him – in the good and in the bad. A few days ago I was told I have a mass in the abdominal/pelvic area that will need to be removed. As much as I don’t want to have to undergo surgery, I know that whatever the next step is, God is with me, His grace is sufficient for me. I don’t need to be strong because He is strong. I just need to hold on to His Word/promises and trust that He knows exactly what He’s doing. I am not accepting this mass. I am praying fervently for it to be removed and I am trusting the One who is going to remove it. I am leaning on Him because He is reliable and faithful and His Word is true. I don’t know why and how this mass came about. The one thing I know is that God will be glorified and I will testify of His goodness.

    • Anne Jones

      Ogechi I’m Praying for your safe surgery and a smooth recovery. God’s peace in the middle of it.

    • Debbie

      Praying for your surgery and God to be glorified! I was so proud of you for your statement “that God will glorified and I will testify of his goodness!” Amen! I will pray for you, and all of us, that we remember and practice this phrase all day today and everyday!

    • Gretchen Friel

      And His mercies are new every morning, and He loves you, and finding the mass might not be a problem but not finding it might be, and He is in control. Ogechi, may He work Romans 8:28 all over this situation for you, covering every need, and bringing you out with blessings and healing. Truly.

    • Carol Pierce

      This mass may be intended for evil by someone or something but GOD intends it for good. Your willingness to see it that way is so God honoring! Please share the blessings you receive on this journey with rest of us. So encouraging!!

      • Ogechi Umeh

        I will be sure to share my testimony. I won’t be able to keep it to myself. For we overcome by the power of the blood and the word of our testimony. Thank you, Carol.

  • Kelly Chataine

    For me, it has been nine months of dealing with stressful situations, emotions, and spiritual battles. Don’t misunderstand me, God has moved in miraculous ways and provided so overwhelmingly for our needs. At this point in the journey, I yearn for Dennis (my husband) to be able to walk as he once did, to walk through Target with me and not worry about whether the store is busy or not. I yearn to ride bikes with my husband again. I pray for his dizziness, nausea, and vomiting to be eliminated. I try not to think about my new roles and the role I seemed to have left behind, being a wife, or I want to cry or feel downhearted. I miss our talks and debates. I miss us. I hope for a full recovery, and medical professionals say he could absolutely make a full recovery.
    So, what am I to do? I continue on reading/studying God’s Word, praying, fellowshipping, talking about Jesus, being generous to others, and thanking God for our situation. There have been some challenging days, but those are fewer and farther between, now. My heart still longs for a return of the husband I knew for thirty-four years and worries that that might be a thing of the past.
    Going forward, I trust our amazing God with all things! Laying down my burdens, over, and over, and over again.

    • Candacejo

      As the writer said above, “even if He hasn’t answered my prayer according to my wishes, He is still sufficient for me in my weakness, pain and sorrow.” We don’t see down the road so it is extremely difficult for us to understand the present. But God is faithful and can take a tragedy and turn it into s testimony. Until that day comes, I pray He gives you strength, peace and wisdom to get up every day and remind yourself He is a faithful God. ♥️

  • England Elsie

    Oh how things are getting to me – practical stuff that I don’t have the skills or tenacity for. I am even unwilling, I admit! I am definitely weak. Lord help me in my weakness for what needs to get done in your strength Lord, in your dear strength. Thank you Jesus.

  • Sandy Forsythe

    We turn to Our Father God more often when we are hurting than when things are good. He is always with us…in the good times and in the bad times…
    He is always ‘what we need’ – but it seems we ignore Him a lot of our lives b/c things are going well and perhaps we think to ourselves… “I got this.” So maybe God, wants our full attention.

    Oh how I pray I get to know Jesus deeply before I meet Him face to face.

  • Churchmouse

    It’s been three months. An injustice occurred and is occurring and there’s not yet an end in sight. I have been quite vocal to the Lord to right this wrong and to smite those who are the perpetrators. (oh yeah I prayed for some big old smiting, rationalizing that if David could ask for such a thing, so could I). This is a stick in my craw or as Paul more eloquently puts it, a thorn in my flesh. For three months I have squirmed and schemed in my mind. I have imagined all kinds of scenarios. Yes. I. Have. And it has not made an iota of a difference. This is out of my control (silent scream, here). I am weary, worn out and weak. And in this condition, the Word wallops me across the head this morning. I’m long in the faith but sometimes oh so slow in the following. I’m riled up about this because it’s unfair and I’m offended and who are they to do such a thing? My pride is front and center and smack! The Word hits me hard, at it should, that my pride needs a little pruning. Deep breath. “None of what is occurring is life threatening. It is for your character building.” (yep He said that this morning) Oh. My.
    God is in control. He knows what He’s doing. I humbly surrender. I’m embarrassed I haven’t done it sooner. I am so weak. In this morning’s waving of the white flag, I feel relief and a slowly emerging strength. The weight of my wanting revenge (honesty, here) lifts. I unclench my fists. Oh the situation hasn’t changed. It may not. It may never. This stick in my craw, this thorn in my flesh, may have no earthly resolution. BUT GOD. He spoke to me a little louder than usual today. He got my attention once again through the power of His Word, words that are familiar but I wasn’t following. Forgive me, Lord. I’m weak. You’re strong. Thy will be done. Amen.

    • England Elsie

      Thank you Churchmouse for your honesty and transparency. These events will come to an end – but Christ wants you to bear fruit from it. His glorious, gleaming fruit. Vengenance is his – you might not see it in this lifetime but leave it with him. He sees how you have been hurt and dismayed.

    • Kelly Chataine

      Just prayed for you Churchmouse. Thank you for being so honest! You are loved by God, me, and the SRT community!

    • Lynne

      Churchmouse, I’m so sorry you are going through such a difficult time! You are always such an encouragement to each of us! I’m praying for you! When I am in trying times, Psalm 94:16-19 gives me peace.

    • Kara

      The seasons of pruning are so hard! Thank you for sharing.

    • She Reads Truth

      Thanks for sharing this with us Churchmouse. We’ll be praying for you during this time! -Margot, The SRT Team

    • Kayla

      Churchmouse, so many of your words echo my own failings. Slow to follow, indeed. But, I praise His name that you have surrendered to Him! How sweet it is to finally fall into the arms of our Father. I am praying for you during this time and I thank God for your presence in this community.

    • Mari

      Just like the others, Churchmouse you are always an encouragement to all of us. Your wise words of wisdom encourage me, helping me to grow, and it fills me with joy. So now it is our turn as your sisters to pray for you. And it’s a great reminder to me that none of us have it all together. It sure seems like it on the outside when I go to church, see on my Friends with all their happy faces like to have it all together. But deep down I know we all have hurts, habits and hangups. And it’s only through Christ that we can overcome. And it’s only through Christ that you and I and all us sisters here at SRT can have joy.

  • I’ve been through many things: delivering a stillborn baby, finding out my 5 year old was molested by my mother in law’s husband, money issues, a miscarriage, mental torment, family problems, and finding out about my husband’s affair. I must say that there were days I felt angry, tired, sad, overwhelmed, and desperate. Looking back, I know God was with me through it all. He had people call or text at just the right time. He used people to give me His Words for me. I could feel the prayers on some days, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to be at work making it through the day without the intercession of caring people. He used all of these things for good. I wouldn’t have gone to a different church and heard the Gospel at that time after burying my daughter. (I was invited to go that day after the service.) I was a proud Catholic, and wouldn’t have gone. However, I felt so desperate for answers I went. I’ve told this story before. A woman that caught my attention, looked like she had everything, was full of joy as she praised God, came up to me. She said that God told her to tell me to run to Him and not away. I heard about salvation that day! I longed to hear God’s Word. He got me through while I was grieving. By the way, the woman didn’t have a perfect life. She had money problems and had a miscarriage. Her joy was from her relationship with Jesus. My daughter was only 5 when she told me what her “pap” had done. She said that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit came to her in a dream and told her to tell me. We found out that there were others that he had done this and more to. The grandchildren born after were all girls. However, God stopped this fro continuing. She said bc of that dream, she never doubted that there was a God, even when her friends were. She has told her testimony at church and on missions trips. One woman said to me that after hearing her, she remembered what her grandfather did. She said if she can forgive and go on, so can I. There are so many other ways God has shown Himself real and strong. I could go on. None of those times were easy, but He is faithful. People disappoint us, reject us, and lie to us. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Praise His Holy Name!

    • Churchmouse

      Kristen, you held on to the Anchor in all those storms. Wow. Your testimony is an encouragement to all who are just starting to see storm clouds brewing. There is hope! Hold on! You are not alone! Thank you for sharing. May God bless you abundantly

    • England Elsie

      Thank you Kristen for your courage and boldness in sharing. You have helped me this morning. Yes, may God bless you.

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