Being the pastor of a church is an incredible privilege. I am able to share in the joys and sorrows of people’s lives and offer support, encouragement, prayer, and seek to point people in God’s direction.
I have often been asked (usually by young people) what my favourite Bible passage or verse is. I used to say the resurrection narratives in Luke, or perhaps God’s call to Isaiah in Isaiah 6. But that is changing. It was changed by the experience of chronic migraine that has been a constant companion for the past 11 years. It was changed by the experience of pastoring people.
My favourite passage is now 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9 But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul has revealed that there is a ‘thorn in the flesh’ that he is experiencing that is tormenting him. We don’t know what that is – physical pain, emotional turmoil, criticism, opposition… – but we can sense from the preceding verses that this is something that did not come from God but that God was using to stop him from becoming conceited. Paul says that he pleaded with the Lord to take it away. Jesus’ response is in verse 9.
To those who are going through difficult times in their life I offer this encouragement from Jesus: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
To those in pain: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
To those who are bereft: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
To those who are alone: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
To those who are angry: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
To those who are doubting: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
To those who are struggling with ‘sin’: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
To those who are left bewildered by life: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
To those who need to know forgiveness: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
To those who would like to be able to forgive others but can’t: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
How do we experience that grace? My experience is that the second part of Jesus’ response is true – he makes up what we lack. When we admit we can’t cope he comes alongside us. His Spirit in us ministers to us. He brings people alongside us to encourage us. He provides shafts of sunlight that burst through the clouds. He reminds us that he is the source of Hope.
If you need to hear those words today, ask God to let them resonate through your mind, through your circumstances and into your soul. If someone else needs to hear them, why don’t you speak those words to them?
Be blessed, be a blessing.