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My Grace Is Sufcient For You ~ 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

October 19, 2014 ~ New City Church of Calgary ~ Pastor John Ferguson

Intro: Back from my mini-Sabbatical that was unexpectedly extended another two weeks. I want to thank the
leadership of NCC for granting me that time as well as the congregation for your understanding and patience
and really for your permission for your pastor and his family to be weak and not to have to pretend to have it all
together.

In case you dont know what has been going on in our lives this year, our 15 year old adopted son severed ties
with our family. He has been diagnosed with an attachment disorder and still primarily identies with his family
of origin. The situation is complicated by the fact that he has FAS and a number of disabilities.

It has been a challenging decade for us in many ways until this year when we found our lives turned upside
down & inside out at the chaos that attended this situation. It has been painful, humiliating, and debilitating.

In the midst of feeling our lives spin out of control, I found myself getting angry with God. Why did this have
to happen? We moved into the darkness and pain of this world and adopted a 5 year old kid out of a very
messy and disturbing situation. We were trying to be missional, to make a difference. We didnt have to do
this, God. Why? Why have things gotten so painful that my wife wanted to go to sleep and never wake up?
Why did the personal pain have to get so debilitating that I came to the point of feeling a mental breakdown
coming on?

Youre in a difcult marriage. This is not what you signed up for, and despite everything you have tried
and despite all the prayers you have prayed, it is beginning to dawn on you that things may never
change. Why?
Youve developed a debilitating, physical condition, and the doctors cannot do anything about it. And
despite all your prayers, the reality is sinking in that your life as you dreamed it would be is over, and you
are going to have to learn to live with this new normal. Why?
Youve lost someone close to you. Death has come close and robbed you of someone who can never be
replaced. And you know that your prayers will not bring that person back, and you nd yourself growing
hard and cynical. Why?
You took that step of faith and ventured into a new ministry situation. You dreamed, you prayed, you
imagined the impact you could have, but everything came crashing down. The ministry fell apart, and
you feel ashamed for stepping out in faith, and now you are saying, I will never try anything like that
again. Why?
Your single and youve prayed and prayed for a spouse, and youve dreamed of a family, and the fear of
being single for the rest of your life torments you. And despite your prayers, God doesnt seem to be
doing anything. Why?

I found myself in one of those stuck places asking Why? After a year of not sleeping, of spending countless
hours searching for my son in the middle of night, of feeling like I was gong insane, of not being able to
remember the simplest of things, of seeing my wife crippled with anxiety and despair, I was mad. I was mad
that God put me in a position of leadership where my job was to teach people about our great God, and behind
the scenes I felt as if God was beating the snot out of me.

So I found myself on a mini-Sabbatical. And one week into it, I began to have panic attacks because I
realized that I had three weeks left, and my grudge with God was not going to budge.

One of the things I wanted to do was get the heck out of Calgary. So I planned a trip to Vancouver to visit
my friend, Steve Laug. And on my drive over, I listened to a message by Andy Stanley from a series, In The
Meantime. And in it, he asked the question, What do you do when there is nothing you can do? And he
walked me through a passage of Scripture that I had read a hundred times beforea passage that I was so
familiar with that I had memorized it without even trying. But this time, as I listened to Andy Stanley, God
applied it afresh to my life and my current circumstances. And in it, God called me to do something that I
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didnt want to do, and yet, when I did it, I found a access to a supernatural power and an unexplainable
contentment with my circumstances. And I found that I am not only able to keep going, but to embrace my
weakness in order to experience Gods grace and strength.

Exploring: You may just nd more evidence to support your thinking that Christians are crazy. But you just
might discover a paradox in the way that God works, so I invite you to listen in.

Christian: You are going to be challenged to embrace something to which you have a natural aversion to.
But if you embrace it, you will learn the secret to contentment. And more than that, you will learn how to tap
into God strength no matter what circumstances you might nd yourselves in.


1. David Fletcher preached on this two weeks ago, so we obviously need to spend some more time here.
2. Im re-teaching what Ive learned from Andy Stanley. Check out meantimeseries.org. All credit to him.
2. The passage were going to look at is written by the Apostle Paul, and what you need to know about him is
that at one point he hated Christians and Christianity. In fact, he was a violent persecutor of the early
movement of Jesus followers known as The Way. That is, until he had an encounter with the resurrected
Jesus of Nazareth and his life was forever changed. He was given incredible revelations of heaven cannot be
told and which no man may utter. But along with these revelations, he was given something elsesomething
he didnt like and something that he didnt want.

7 So [in order] to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the
revelations, a thorn was given me in the esh,

1. In order to comes from a Greek word which indicates purpose.
2. given is from the greek word used to indicated a gift given to someone, or an honor upon someone, or
to entrust something to someone. Something was gifted to me.
3. Thorn = Malaria? Epilepsy? Eye problem?

We dont know, but Paul saw this thorn as a gift with a purpose (Stanley).

a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

1. Figurative? Hurts like the devil / hurts like hell. Literal? Satan was active cause in whatever was ailing
Paul.
2. Harass. Torment. Literally, to strike with the st.

Stanley rightly described this as painful, humiliating, and debilitating. This would be a constant distraction in
his life, it would get in the way of his ministry and (to his mind) hamper him from doing the very things that
God had called him to do.

8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.

Seems to indicate three seasons of intense prayer: Pauls condition was so unbearable that begged,
entreated, & pleaded with God to remove this thorn from his esh. God refused to answer Pauls prayer.

9 But he said to me, My grace is sufcient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

1. Gods power is brought to completion, it reaches its full potential when you are weak. IOW, Paul, my
power power is found when you are weakest. Thats where you can access my supernatural strength.
So My answer to your prayer, Paul, is No. Im not going to remove this thorn from you. And remember,
I love you. And I promise you, My grace is sufcient for you.
2. Stanley: Painful, humiliating, debilitating, permanent.
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3. And because of this, my power will ow through your weakness, and the impact of your life will be so
great that you would not believe it if I told you in advance.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon
me.

1. Boast = glory in, to rejoice in. Its the opposite of covering it up, of being ashamed about it, of hoping
others dont nd out about it.
2. Paul: Im going to embrace my weakness; Im going to let it be on full display in my life so that the
power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and
calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

1. Objection: Pastor, I hate that! to which I say, I know. I do to.
2. Why do we hate to be weak? Because we love being in control and the sense of power that gives us.
When I was mad at God over the circumstances of my life, when everything seemed out of my control, I
thought at least I can be mad at God, and that funk gave me a sense of control and power. And
consequently I had no access to the power of God. Gods grace seemed utterly insufcient. And it
wasnt until I let go over the one thing I was hanging on to that I began to experience again Gods grace
as being utterly sufcient for me. My soul was buoyed, and as I embrace my weakness I began to
experience anew the power of God.

Main Idea: Andy Stanley worded it like this: Embracing your inability is a prerequisite to experiencing Christs
ability. Im going to tweak it a bit and put it like this:

Embracing your weakness is a prerequisite to experiencing Christs power.

1. Embrace weakness.

1. We learn from Paul that its not wrong to ask God to remove difculties from our lives.
2. We learn from Jesus that its not wrong to ask God to change what he is asking us to do.

Luke 22:41-42, And heknelt down and prayed, saying, Father, if you are willing, remove this cup
from me. Nevertheless, not my will will, but yours be done.
Sometimes God says No.

3. Stanley: You have the option to view this as a gift with a purpose and a promise.

2. Learn contentment.

Phil. 4:11-13, I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low,
and I know how to about. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and
hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

3. Rest in grace. My grace is sufcient for you. But God, I want your grace plus ________.

1. Amazing grace: Thro many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; Twas grace that brought
me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
2. God gives you grace for the moment. He doesnt give you tomorrows grace today. But he always gives
you grace. My grace is sufcient for you.
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