“My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV
Made perfect means to complete. It is interesting, as if it is possible, that God’s strength is somehow not complete or perfect without my weakness. Is anything incomplete with God? No….God is always totally perfect. And yet here it is, God Himself saying to all, that His strength is made complete when it swallows up Paul’s weakness! When God’s strength meets our weakness somehow His strength is completed and made perfect. Not improved but actually perfected. It is not that God’s strength is ever imperfect or incomplete but His goal for us is completed when we walk in what He does for us. When a singer, actor or artist completes a creative work there is still something lacking if they have not yet shown it off to someone. The work itself is totally done, complete, but an audience really finishes, completes and perfects it!
“My grace.” God makes it very personal for Paul. Paul asked three times that God would remove the thorn in his flesh. God’s answer is Himself. Think of it this way: “What I can do for you, without you helping Me, without any deserving action from you Paul, but only what I will do for you because I love you, because I am love, not because you did something to make Me want to love and help you. This alone is more than enough, and in fact overflowing for you as you cannot in your own power get rid of this thorn. You cannot do it without Me doing it for you. My strength is made perfect when I get to show you and the world around you My powerful love in action.” Here is how the Amplified states it: “But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble well/courageously]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!”
No wonder Paul could then conclude that he desired to boast about his weaknesses, for then God’s strength, grace and power would be even more visible and perfected before the world. The Message version says it this way: “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”
God showers grace (His strength and power) on us, without any thought of return. He died for us without any motive of our response drawing Him on. It was His own love that motivated Him then and now. His love for us is completed when we walk not in our own strength, which is really no strength at all. To be sufficient makes me think of something that meets all the need at hand, and does it in such a way as to not be in need after that, and has something left over, just in case! But that supply is all wrapped up in Jesus Himself. When we get focused on the thorn, we cannot see Jesus. Even though we have two eyes, we cannot look at two places at once.
Think of a tree representing God’s strength; it gives fruit to eat, shade from the sun, roots to hold the soil in place, a place for birds to nest, and pleasure in its beauty. It is strong and gives shelter to so many. We often feel cut off from the tree/source of strength as we try on our own to fix our problems. I recently heard one of my favorite Pastor’s say this: “Our very trying betrays our confidence in the flesh.” How true! May we welcome God’s strength and be satisfied and content with our weaknesses before Him. He knows all about them anyhow; why not exchange our weaknesses for His strength? This good news!