November 27, 2013 - Serious Struggles

When someone is going through a trial or a very difficult time, we often say, “God’s grace is sufficient.” But what does that mean? Is it supposed to be a comfort to us when we are suffering indescribable pain or when we are about to lose someone more dear to us than life?

In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, the apostle Paul described what he perceived to be “a thorn in his flesh”—an affliction that he referred to as a “messenger of Satan” sent to harass him. Paul believed that God was using it to keep him from becoming conceited. He didn’t like it though, and pleaded with God three times to remove it from him. Instead of delivering Paul from this ‘thorn’, God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

It was clearly in God’s power to deliver Paul from whatever this problem may have been—but He didn’t. In fact, He refused to do so three times. Was it because Paul didn’t enjoy the favor of God? There is no such indication in scripture. On the contrary, God explained that He intended to use Paul’s weakness to manifest His own power perfectly.  So what did God mean, “My grace is sufficient for you…”?

In Isaiah 43:2 God says,

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

It would seem that God is already aware that we can’t do those things on our own—that we are not only going to need help, but we may need encouragement just because we’re facing such obstacles. They aren’t simple problems to overcome—God is talking about making our way through waters that are powerful, overwhelming and over our heads, and fire that threatens to burn us to death—to consume us! But in our weakness God not only provides what we need, he reveals His power—His grace is sufficient!

Is there a place for us to shine—to reveal our own glory? No. There isn’t. Because we don’t begin to have the capacity for our own glory, and God does not share His … with anyone. But according to Isaiah 40:29-31, in God’s grace,

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Through His grace, God meets our needs, protects us and delivers us, accompanies us through every trial and heartache—but He does much, much more.

When we face difficulties, pain, unfathomable tragedy, and circumstances that we feel that we cannot endure, God says to us the same thing He said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you…”

In other words, no matter what you are facing—regardless of the pain and heartache, God’s grace is there. He may allow you to go through horrible circumstances that seem to end tragically, but by His grace He will not give you more than you can endure. Why? Because His grace is sufficient—you need nothing more.

Have you walked this path? If you can share some encouragement or have a comment, please do.