Links Daily Devotional

In the Meantime, Part 2: Sufficient Grace

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9a, NLT)

Before the emergence of Tiger Woods, Calvin Peete was the most successful African-American on the PGA Tour, with 12 wins. Peete has a wonderful story. He was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1943 and grew up very poor. During his childhood Calvin suffered a badly broken arm, and without good medical attention and resources it was never properly set. As a result, he could not straighten his left arm for the remainder of his life. So when Peete picked up golf in his 20s, he had a physical condition that would not allow him to swing the golf club as everybody teaches—with a straight left arm.

Apparently, this limitation did not hold Peete back! In fact, one might argue that it was a blessing in disguise, as Peete was arguably the straightest driver of the golf ball the game has ever seen. During one stretch in his career, he led the Tour in driving accuracy for 10 straight years. It would have been easy to pity Peete and wonder where God was in protecting this poor boy; looking back though, many see Peete’s once perceived handicap as the greatest gift of his life.

Many of us, or perhaps someone you are close to, are in a place right now of struggle and hardship. Consider health, marriage, finances, work—as these go, so can go our faith, especially in the hard times. The problem is that so many of us see God’s “lack of cooperation” with our desire for comfort and pleasure as his lack of presence in a bad situation. But the presence of adversity does not equate the absence of God or his lack of love. It might even mean the opposite.

Did you know the apostle Paul dealt with this very issue?

Remember that Paul, like you and me, never met or spent time with the pre-resurrected, physical Jesus. So even though your testimony may not be quite as dramatic as his (see Acts 9), we’re actually on a fairly equal playing field here with him. Shortly after he was converted and began his ministry, Paul was afflicted with an apparent physical condition. We don’t know exactly what it was, but we do know that it was painful, humiliating, and debilitating. Multiple times Paul “begged the Lord to take it away.” Fortunately for Paul, he did not get the cooperative response from God to exactly what he was asking. Instead, the Lord said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” I have a feeling God is trying to tell you and me the same thing right now.

My hope is that we will now trust this enough to respond as Paul did in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses,” he said, “so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I [now] take pleasure in… the hardships… that I suffer… For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul eventually realized that the thorn in his flesh and the suffering he went through were good gifts from God, given with purpose and promise.

God allowed Paul’s affliction because he had more work for the apostle to do and he needed a humble and pliable man for this “next level.” The once prideful Paul finally understood it, and thankfully he was able to teach us this eternal principle: Embracing your inability is a prerequisite to experiencing Christ’s ability.

Josh Nelson
October 15, 2014
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