October 4, 2012 The Sufficient “NO”
There seems to never be a day that I don’t find myself saying “no” at least 10 times. per child. As any seasoned parent would confess, that answer is also never enough to the child pleading with me. And so, the reply to my answer is almost always, “why?”
I often find myself, too tired for an explanation, saying back to them, “Because I said so!”
This sort of scenario is repeated on a daily basis in our house. Of course that is never the end of the conversation. Sometimes in ends in me throwing some fit of rage for the non-compliant child (I know, that’s pathetic, but I am just keeping it real), or a lecture about all the reasons I don’t want them to do it, or I simply repeat “because I said so!” Occasionally I practice my patient, loving, motherly skills to nurture the child to obedience. Occasionally.
We, as grown-ups, are really no different from our children.
When I found out my dad had stage 4 throat cancer I was totally bummed. I wanted to know “WHY?”
And if I couldn’t know why, then my next question to God was, WILL HE BE HEALED?
The happy ending for our family ended in a “yes,” but for so many, many people it seems that there isn’t an answer or if there is, it is the resounding terrible “no”. And then the questions begin again.
While discussing trials recently with a friend, our conversation naturally lead to a passage where Paul (the super missionary of the first century) struggled with his very own weakness.
This is what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians:
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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.
First, I must point out that Paul knew why he was going through a trial. It was to keep him humble. He had many things that he could boast about and have over other people. In my own life, I know that I have gone through hard times to learn reliance not on myself and what I can do. Instead of feeding on the lie of “God helps those who helps themselves” or the little engine’s “I think, I can,” I learned to depend on the promise of “I can do all things through Christ.” There is a fine line between knowing I am wonderfully made and thinking I am the most wonderful person ever.
Whatever it was that Paul was going through, the struggle was enough for him to continually dwell on. He asked three times for it to be taken away. I don’t think that 3 is some kind of magic number, but a way to show that he asked God several times to change it, much like a child asking a parent over and over for the same thing. You can even almost hear Paul saying to God, “. . ., and why not?”
It is the answer that he receives that I really want to look it, because that is what I think I want from God more than anything else. Answers. Answers to the questions of why is this happening, how much longer must I go through this, and are you going to help me?
MY:: The answers to all of our questions begin and end with who God is. God is truth, life, love, He is just, powerful, provider, sustainer, creator, forgiver, healer. He is the one speaking. Any thing I lack or need can be found in Him. Any hope, assurance, or peace is found in the one. He is who he says he is, and will do what he says he will do.
GRACE:: We sing about the grace of God all the time. It’s amazing grace. Beautiful grace. Grace is the victory. Marvelous grace. But what exactly is it when we talk about God’s grace?! One simple definition is getting from God something that I don’t deserve, specifically receiving forgiveness of my sin. A pardon, but more than that. Also given the adoption as His very own. So what does that have to do with God’s help to Paul’s thorn?
Paul already had received the saving grace as a believer. I think God’s answer was simply, “I’ve already given the help to you that you don’t even deserve. I’ve given what you need.” This is evident in the remainder of God’s reply. . .
IS:: also known as a being verb. It connects “grace” with “sufficient”. It connects the need with what is really needed. Paul was asking for one thing, but God simply answers that what his need really is. It’s kind of like when my kids tell be they are hungry and need a snack at 5:30 in the afternoon. I tell them, “No, you’re hungry because it’s dinner time.”
- being as much as is needed
- enough to meet a need or purpose
I especially like the number 2 definition. It is grace that will meet Paul’s (and mine) need. Grace will meet the purpose. And not just any grace, but the grace that alone can come from God. It is adequate to fulfill what is needed. Sure in times of trial or illness there is a real tangible need that cries out to be met, but when it all boils down, God is there with us meeting the need. How can I question what my real need is unless I understand the bigger picture of life, and many times that is only revealed in time. I think I know what my need really is, like a simple minded child, but it is my loving Father who can see the bigger picture.
FOR:: a preposition. It connects the relationship of God’s grace and the receiving noun (me). Who is the grace for? What is the purpose of grace? Me. God has done it for me. He has answered. The sufficient gift is purposed and connected to me.
YOU:: This is an answer. It might not have been the answer that I was expecting. Not the one I was hoping for. No matter the answer, it has been heard. The prayer didn’t hit the ceiling the moment it left my mouth. God answered back and in a personal way. YOU. He sees. He hears. He answers. TO ME.
“My grace is sufficient for you.”
That is the answer that we receive to our prayers, no matter what they are. Some times that means that the grace we receive includes healing, or a new job, or whatever it is that we are asking for. But it is no less grace when we don’t get those wonderful miracles. Unlike my answers to my children, God- as the faithful father meets the needs. What ever the answer is, it will be sufficient.
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