Friday, March 14, 2014

Sufficient, Sustaining Grace

Death of my former pastor a month ago.
Little angel babies sick.
News of cancer in the community.
The sound of a helicopter flying over me, taking a church member to the city hospital.

Bad news is everywhere. Everywhere you turn, you find someone is suffering, someone is hurting, someone is just keeping a head above water. It's hard to cope. You wonder why God doesn't just take it all away. Why doesn't He just make everything better?

There is a word that came to me this morning. Grace. The definition of grace (the one I'm referring to anyway) is God's unmerited favor--His kindness, His love, His accepting smile, etc. To me, God's grace is His smiling down on me, lifting me up when I'm down, encouraging me when times get tough or super busy and I feel like I can't do it all, and that feeling that I get sometimes when I just feel His love.

Today this piece of 2 Corinthians 12:9 popped into my head: 
My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Just like the sustain pedal on a piano holds out the final note in a song, God's grace is held out. Not only is his grace sufficient, but it's sustaining, continual, always maintained.

His grace is sufficient. He is capable of meeting all of our needs. He's fully able to comfort us when we're going through a valley.

So, why doesn't God just take it all away? In John 16:33, Jesus said that in this world there will be tribulation. Jesus had his own during His short stay. The reason we suffer is because this world is not perfect. It's flawed. It indeed goes back to the Garden when Adam and Eve chose to walk away from God. For an unbeliever, that causes anger or maybe even makes him/her scoff. But the fact is, we decided to go our own way. And because we chose to go away from God, God let us. He gave us the choice to do it our way, and we messed it up. I Corinthians 13:12 says that we see through a glass darkly, but then [one day] face to face. We can't know God's ways, but we can seek Him. We can seek Him when things are tough, when life is hard, and when the valley is harsh and cold.

There is a song that I love dearly that speaks to my heart. It's written by a woman who is blind due to a degenerative eye condition that left her blind in early childhood. But in spite of her inability to see, she didn't let that dampen her musical talent but instead stepped out by faith and let God's grace be enough. So as I remember those who are going through hard times, I'm also praying for those of you who are reading this who may be having your own times of trouble, a lack of faith, anger, or illness. I pray that you would turn to the God of creation, the Great Physician, Jehovah Jireh--the Great Provider.

The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear
And I don't know the reasons why you brought me here.
But just because you love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley if you want me to.

Cause I'm not who I was when I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You’re not through with me yet.
So if all of these trials that bring me closer to You
Then I will go through the fire if you want me to.

And it may not be the way I would've chosen
When you lead me through a world that's not my home
But you never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone.

So when the whole world turns against me
And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear you answer my cries for help
I'll remember the suffering that your love put you through
And I will go through the valley if you want me to.

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