The next time you wonder why God allows people to suffer, turn in your Bible to Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians. There you learn about the suffering of Saint Paul, the greatest missionary of the Christian faith. Read chapters 11 and 12. Pause after reading verses nine and 10 of chapter 12. Here is a modern translation of those two verses: 9 Each time he (God) said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (10) That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (NLT).

Verse nine contains one of the most significant faith statements in the Bible: “My grace is all you need.” Memorize it. Believe it and you have embraced a foundational truth of Christian faith. The more popular translation is “My grace is sufficient for you.” In either translation, it is God’s answer to Paul’s prayer for deliverance from his suffering. It can also be the answer to your prayers.

Without this letter to the Corinthians, every persecuted Christian might be tempted to wallow in self-pity, moaning about why God allows bad things to happen to good people. But when we read about the troubles Paul faced as a servant of Christ, you and I must admit that God allowed Paul to suffer far more than we have suffered and He provided Paul with grace enough to handle his hardships without abandoning his faith.

When you wrestle with your own suffering, you can say with Paul, “God’s grace is all I need.” When doubt knocks on your heart’s door, you can say, “Trouble, my God is greater than you, and His grace is sufficient for every need I face!” God’s power can be made “perfect” in your weakness too. And you can “take pleasure” in your troubles because the power of Christ is as available to you as it was to Paul. So, you too can handle insults, hardships, persecution and trouble in a way that brings glory to Christ.

Paul surprises me by saying he had decided to “boast” of his weaknesses. He even admitted that once he had been “a basket case,” having to run for his life when his friends lowered him in a basket from a window in a Damascus wall. Are you mature enough to “boast” of your weaknesses? I find it hard to do. Our culture values impressive “credentials” and counterfeit “honors.” Yet Paul had no pride in his own achievements; what he valued most was his relationship to Jesus. Knowing Jesus and serving him was his life purpose. That’s where I want to be, and that’s where I am headed. Are you headed that way?

God allows suffering. And He uses it in many different ways to accomplish his will. Sometimes suffering makes us more sensitive servants of Jesus. Like Paul, you may suffer with a “thorn in the flesh” that God will not remove. And you may ask why God does not answer your prayers for deliverance. Well, He does answer your prayers; sometimes He says “no” or “wait.”

Learning to depend upon the grace of God, and not yourself, is one of the great secrets of the Christian life. Life works God’s way when you live in Christ and welcome his living in you. Pride causes you to trust in your own cleverness rather than admit your need of God’s grace. But when you admit your weaknesses and turn in simple faith to Christ, his power enables you to “soar on wings like eagles” in the worst of times. That’s when you can celebrate the eternal truth that no matter what you must face, God’s grace is all you need!