Complaint to Contentment
Paul conversation with Lord Jesus Christ is interesting and illuminating. His ‘thorn in the flesh’ was frustrating and considered as an obstacle for his effectiveness in ministry. However, God’s view was entirely different. The very ‘thorn’ that makes Paul to be worried, becomes the source of power – scars become stars. “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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Cor 12:9) In this interaction with God, Paul gets a new insight that transforms his life from that of complain to contentment.
Grace is generally defined as the unmerited favour. Grace is also understood as mercy shown to people who do not deserve any kind of concession or kindness. But, the rich word is beyond all these definitions. The word ‘sufficient’ also is a broad based inclusive term. The same grace that was available to St. Paul is available to each and every Christian today.
- Complementing grace:
The grace of God is complement or additional resource for our lives. Paul certainly had weakness and pain, but with that there was complementing grace. The additional grace always provides improvement or even perfection. When living in the imperfect world, most resource and tools are insufficient; the complementing grace provides us strength and stamina to aim for perfection.
- Compensating grace
Paul experienced certain deficiency. The ‘thorn in the flesh’ affected his physical fitness, mental alertness, social life, and created a psychological problem or complex of inadequacy. Our good Lord, instead of removing the ‘thorn’ as Paul expected, provided grace that compensates. In lieu of his weakness, he was empowered with God’s grace. The compensating factor – grace, not only covers the inadequacy, but provides additional source of power and strength.
- Caring grace
God cares for us. (I Peter 5:7) All our anxieties, worries, helplessness and powerlessness could be safely placed at His feet. He cares, sustains and provides us. The Lord did not brush aside the prayer of Paul to remove his ‘thorn’ or ignore his pleas, but was so caring to reveal his higher purpose to him. Lord cares for insignificant things, the world may ignore like tears, wanderings. “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.” (Psalms 56:8)
- Completing grace
Paul had not completed his life journey. Paul wanted to ‘fight a good fight of faith’ to gain the crown. To complete the course of his life, he needed help. The grace would in fact help him to complete the race. God’s purpose and plan for our lives cannot be incomplete. With human ingenuity and resource God’s Will could not be completed. Paul was reminded that His grace would help him to complete His divine will and plan.
- Connecting grace
The ‘thorn of flesh’ is provided with grace that helps Paul to be connected. He confessed that this episode has helped him not to be conceited (indeed a great blessing), but to be connected with God’s power. That also helped Paul to be in touch with reality of life in this imperfect world. Pain, tears, suffering, stress, fatigue and anxiety are real in day to day life. The ‘thorn’ helped Paul to be connected with real world and also experience victory. That also helped Paul to be connected empathetically with those who go through pain and sufferings.
- Creative grace
God is the author of the whole creation and created human beings in His own image. After the Fall, the Lord is working on a New Creation. Sinful people could come to Christ, be redeemed and be created into new person- a saint. God’s grace provides creative insights to all situations. Creative grace provided wisdom to David to convert simple pebble to a strategic missile weapon that defeats Goliath.
- Contentment providing grace
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” (I Timothy 6:6, 7) Generally, who are afflicted would have frustration, anger, mental tension, and disorientation. But the grace of God provides us a contentment and peace that is beyond comprehension. Interestingly, the contentment is indeed gain – in health, strength and spiritual maturity.
- Conquering grace
Paul asserts in another place that we are more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37) The ‘thorn in flesh’ will not incapacitate him to be defeated or destroyed. Paul will spring to victory by His grace. In fact, Christians are called to be triumphant. They are chosen to triumph over circumstances, sin, world, and death.
- Consistent grace
The grace of Lord is not conditional but consistent. God’s faithfulness and provision of consistent grace is founded on the in-exhaustive resourcefulness of God. The Bible asserts that God is not man, to keep changing his mind. (Numbers 23:19)
- Covenant grace
Covenant is made between the equals generally. However, God makes covenant with his own creation – humans through His Son Lord Jesus Christ. The New Covenant is sealed by the Blood of Lord Jesus Christ. The New Covenant is in itself a product of God’s grace as humans do not have the capacity to earn their own salvation.
Grace is not a philosophy or just a doctrine. The reality of grace is all pervasive in the life of a Christian. The abundant, adequate, sufficient and perfect grace transforms a person beyond imagination and comprehension. Let us learn to live by grace, pursue righteousness and wait for His Glorious Coming.