My Grace Is Sufficient

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, 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.

2013-12-29 - My Grace Is Sufficient (IMG_8633)A remote bluff with a scenic view a quarter of a mile off of Rough Trail.  Red River Gorge, Slade, Kentucky.

I always carry a well-stocked first aid kit along with quite a bit of survival gear when we hike.  Some would probably accuse me of being a little overstocked.  I suppose I could trim down what I carry a bit, but leading groups of people on hikes, sometimes in fairly remote places, I would rather err on the side of caution and be ready to handle any emergency that might arise.

There are a number of well known “pastors” out there today who preach a terrible distortion of the Christian message, known as the prosperity gospel.  Promises of health, wealth, and happiness abound in their teachings.  Following Christ does not mean we will be successful in everything that we do, not even in our ministry efforts, nor does it mean we will be richly rewarded in the form or earthly treasures.  Neither does being a follower of Christ mean that we will be free from sickness or injury.

Paul does not tell us specifically what his “thorn…in the flesh” is in today’s passage.  We do not know whether this weakness of Paul’s was an illness, injury, or some mental or spiritual challenge he was facing.  Regardless of the particular affliction, Paul was obviously bringing it to the Lord in prayer, but apparently to no avail.  God’s answer to Paul was simply, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

How many of us can actually say that we would be “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities?”  I can only pray that someday I might be blessed with this kind of faith.  I can only pray that someday “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  May we all be blessed to realize, whatever afflictions and weaknesses we experience in life, that God’s grace, won through the blood of Christ, is the only thing we really need.

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.

Reconciled

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2013-12-23 - Reconciled (IMG_7543)Footbridge across the Little Miami River.  John Bryan State Park, Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Depending on the parks and trails you hike, you may have the luxury of finding well-built footbridges that allow you to cross rivers and streams with ease.  In more remote locations, however, where there are no bridges, fording fast-moving water can be a dangerous and potentially deadly task.  If you have never forded difficult water and are unsure what to do, your wisest choice may be to go back the way you came.  (See Safety Tips for Fording Streams and Rivers)

Fortunately in our Christian walk the bridge has already been built.  The cost of constructing this particular bridge was very high, though, nothing less than the blood of God’s own Son shed on the cross.  Christ, who was sinless, took on our sins “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  But, without Christ we are completely cut off from God; we have nothing to rely on but our own good works and righteousness, which, if examined honestly, we will find completely lacking.  The good news is that it does not depend on our efforts because, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.”

The bridge is already standing, God calls us to the other side, and once there we have responsibilities that, as followers of Christ, we are expected to fulfill.  He “gave us the ministry of reconciliation,” he “entrusted to us the message of reconciliation,” and now “we are ambassadors for Christ.”  Again there is good news, it is not upon our own efforts that we must rely, because “in Christ” we are “a new creation.”  And, as we read in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.