Even worse than feeling like you don’t have enough is feeling like you are not enough.
Have you ever gone through life with this nagging sense of inadequacy, fearing that you have somehow been “weighed on the scales and found wanting” (Daniel 5:27)? Illness, regret, habitual sins, all the responsibility you carry — can become reminders of all the ways you don’t measure up.
For me, chronic illness causes me to feel inadequate. It means I must budget my energy. The limited supply frustrates me. I’d like to have more to give to the activities I enjoy and to the people I love.
But God has continued to be gracious to me — so much so that I am now able to thank God for Crohn’s disease, the very thing that saps my strength.
The apostle Paul experienced a continuing weakness, a “thorn in the flesh” that God didn’t remove (2 Corinthians 12:7).
“But [God] 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. 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.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Sufficient grace means enough grace. God supplies us with as much grace as we need for every situation we face. Grace for facing illness or financial need; grace for our lack of wisdom or lack of social skills; grace for dealing with rebellious children or aging parents.
Whatever our need, we can rest in the knowledge that God’s grace is sufficient for everything we lack and everything lacking in us.
Yet these verses go much further, to the point of almost sounding absurd. Paul says that his weaknesses actually make him glad! He delights in hardships. Insults and persecution bring him joy.
How can this be true?
Paul had learned that the only way to experience God’s power was through his weaknesses. I’ve discovered the same thing.
During a season when pain kept me in bed, God revealed himself to me. He gently exposed my anger and pride. He invited me to stop trying to prove my worthiness and to instead accept that he had already paid for my sin. He showed me that my primary purpose is not to achieve, but to know him. I learned to seek him, talk to him, and share with others the joy he was bringing me.
If I think I can do something on my own, God lets me go ahead and try, but I don’t experience God’s transforming power in my life until I admit my inability. I managed to answer kindly whenever people offered me suggestions to “fix” my disease, but I couldn't stop feeling angry inside. Then I asked God to change me. He removed my anger and replaced it with his love and grace. That’s why I can and do thank God for Crohn’s disease, because through this weakness God’s power has been displayed to me, in me, and through me.
So, where are you deficient?
The question seems harsh. No one wants to be deficient. Yet we all are.
Maybe, like me, you need to seek humility as your first step. Acknowledge to God, and to yourself, what you lack. Seek forgiveness for being self-sufficient and begin to trust in God’s power rather than in your own.
Or maybe your deficiencies stare you in the face every time you look in the mirror and think about your past. In that case, you need to believe that God’s grace is sufficient — even for you. Paul called himself the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:16). If God could forgive and change Paul into a completely different person, God can forgive and change you.
Unbelievably, in God’s economy, the more grace you need, the more grace you get. That means sufficient grace is actually superabundant, never-ending, inexhaustible grace.
When you surrender to God and ask him to work, your inadequacies reveal his power to the world. So, like Paul, we can choose to delight in weakness.
Where do you need God’s grace in your life and circumstances? Thank him for the opportunity to experience his sufficiency. Trust God to provide the strength and joy you need to keep going.