When I’m driving my car, I like to listen to all sorts of music. Lately I was driving to work when suddenly I was struck by one particular lyric from a Dutch rock band: You can’t compete with my demons. It made me think about what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12.
‘I was given a thorn in my body because of the outstanding revelations I’ve received so that I wouldn’t be conceited. It’s a messenger from Satan sent to torment me so that I wouldn’t be conceited. I pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me alone. He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” ‘
Prosecuted for the sake of Jesus
Nowadays we know Paul as a really devoted disciple of Jesus. But before that he had been an enemy of those who believed in Jesus, he had prosecuted them and thrown them in jail. On the road to Damascus, where he would do the same again, Jesus revealed Himself to him. After this meeting Paul would never be the same. He began to preach and teach about Jesus as the true Messiah, how Scripture had spoken of Him. And then it became his turn to be prosecuted and suffer for the sake of his Savior.
God’s strength is shown in our weakness
Paul writes about this in the second letter he wrote to the Corinthians. He tells them how he has served Jesus, more outstanding than all other dicsiples. He has been beaten, scourged, stoned nearly to death, shipwrecked, famished, thirsty, jailed and in danger overall. He was a Hebrew, belonging to Gods chosen people. He has had extraordinairy visions and revelations. But he did not want to brag about his spiritual experiences. God gave him these experiences, but He also prevented him from being proud.
Strength in weakness
There was something that nagged Paul. We don’t know exactly what it was. Was it physical or mental pain? Was it an illness or a sin he could not overcome? He himself called it a messenger of Satan, a demon who tortured him. He had asked the Lord three times if He would take away this pain. And the Lord’s reply was: “My grace is enough for you. My strenght is made perfect in weakness.” Could God not compete with this demon? Oh yes He could. He had cast Satan and his demons out of heaven after they stood up to Him. When He walked this earth in His Son Jesus, He had cast out seven demons of Mary Magdalene and a legion out of the Gerasenes’ man (Luke 8). Then why did He not free Paul from his demon? To prevent Paul from being proud of himself and brag about his experiences and achievements. Because this would not serve the gospel and the people who heard it. His weakness made him perfect for the job, because in his weakness the power of Jesus was shown. He had to be weak and suffering for God’s power to work in and through him.
The greatest gift
How can anyone live like that? “My grace is enough for you”, the Lord says. Grace is God’s undeserved and unexpected gift of love, favor and forgiveness. He is loving and kind to people who do not deserve it. Paul knew what that meant. He had been a prosecuter of Christians, he had so much guilt. But God called him to repent and when he did, he received grace and forgiveness. We all need grace. We all deserve death and hell because we have sinned, but when we turn to Jesus He will forgive us. He will give us life and heaven. Because He deserved it for us.
God’s grace was shown best when Jesus died on the cross for our sins.
God’s grace was shown best when Jesus died on the cross for our sins. We could never deserve heaven by our own deeds. We are weak. We all have our demons. Maybe you are not literally posessed like Mary Magdalene, but you can be posessed by ugly thoughts and wrong desires, or haunted by what you did or experienced. Do not try to overcome them by yourself. You can’t. But He can. He did. He will.
Let grace be enough
Does this mean you will never be attacked by satan again? That you will never sin again? No. There may be one or more things left that you struggle with. There may be things going on in your life that you don’t understand. Maybe God takes them away when you ask Him, maybe not. He knows what is best for you. You can live with that. You can and must learn to live by grace. In your weakness His strength is made perfect.
My grace is enough for you
Grace is one of the most wonderful things, if not THE most in my opinion. It is my lifelong struggle to see my own sinfulness and weakness and learn not to try to make things better, but trust in God’s grace. Throughout my years with God I have learned what it means and I am still learning, I still do not fully comprehend. I probably never will during this lifetime. What I do know, is that His grace is enough for me.
Let it be enough for you too.