Sufficient Grace

graceThere are times in life when we experience storms that seem to never end.  Paul endured what he called a “thorn in the flesh.”  And yet, Paul discovered that even in the most painful and enduring trials the grace of God was sufficient.  2 Cor. 12:8-9, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”  The word order in Greek can render the phrase to read, “Sufficient for you is the grace of me.”  Indeed, what we need first and foremost in the storms of life is the grace/presence of Jesus.  More than looking within ourselves or to the world’s answers, we need Jesus.  He is the comfort, strength, and provision we need in painful times.

How do we connect with God’s grace/presence during storms of life?  It is important that we elevate our study of the Word.  Psalm 119:71- “It is good for me that I was afflicted,
 that I may learn Your statutes.”  In times of struggle, our perception and understanding of God’s Word is heightened.  Martin Luther once said three things are necessary to understand a text of Scripture: prayer, study, and suffering a trial.  The reason God allows us to be in a storm is to teach us a lesson; to mold and shape us into the person he wants us to become.  In storms, God is trying to get our attention.  Thus, we need to spend quality time in the Word.

Another thing we need to do is elevate our prayer life.  Like Paul, Jesus prayed three times for his “thorn” or as He called it His “cup” to be removed- the cross (Matt. 26:36-44).  In Gethsemane, Jesus prayed if there could be any way for Him to fulfill God’s will without the torture and pain of the crucifixion for God to make it so.  Yet, for Jesus and Paul, it was God’s will for them to endure the pain of the trial.  It was prayer that enabled both to move forward, despite the difficulty, in God’s plan for their lives.  The “thorn” and the “cup” were not enjoyable, but Jesus and Paul knew that the grace/presence of God would strengthen them to thrive through the storm.

Charles Spurgeon, the great English preacher of the 19th century, was a man who endured many storms in his life, but experienced the grace of God.  He experienced strong bouts with depression most of his adult life.  His wife whom he cared for was an invalid most of their marriage.  He took unpopular stands against the theological liberalism of his day and endured constant ridicule and threats.  He spent one-third of the last 27 years of his ministry out of the pulpit because of his own physical illness.  There was hardly a weakness, hardship, or difficulty he did not know.  And yet he knew his trials would result in strength and God’s grace. Spurgeon wrote:

“It is easy to believe in grace for the past and the future, but to rest in it for the immediate necessity is true faith… At this moment, and at all moments which shall ever occur between now and glory, the grace of God will be sufficient for you.  This sufficiency is declared without any limiting words, and therefore I understand the passage to mean that the grace of our Lord Jesus is sufficient to uphold thee, sufficient to strengthen thee, sufficient to comfort thee, sufficient to make thy trouble useful to thee, sufficient to enable thee to triumph over it, sufficient to bring thee out of it, sufficient to bring thee out of ten thousand like it, sufficient to bring thee home to heaven.  Whatever would be good for thee, Christ’s grace is sufficient to bestow; whatever would harm thee, his grace is sufficient to avert, whatever thou desirest, his grace is sufficient to give thee if it be good for thee, whatever thou wouldst avoid, his grace can shield thee from it if so his wisdom shall dictate… Here let me press upon you the pleasing duty of taking home the promise personally at this moment, for no believer here need be under any fear, since for him also, at this very instant, the grace of the Lord Jesus is sufficient.”

It is so very true: even in the darkest and longest of storms, the grace and presence of God is sufficient to enable you to thrive through the storm and be made stronger in His will.

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