“My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.” —2 Corinthians 12:9
I was typing up a sermon for my father-in-law (H.B. Fuller) last month—a compilation of notes from a funeral service. I just knew when I read it that I wanted to share the main topic with you—it was about grace. It is good to know that when we, as Christians, die that we will be covered by God’s grace. But I think it’s even more important and impactful to reflect on how we are covered even as we live.
I found some of his text to be very applicable to living every day with grace. I wanted to share a compilation of these thoughts with you:
“One of the wonderful things about this all ‘sufficient grace’ spoken of in the Bible is that it is strongest when we are weakest. … Paul said that when sin abounds, grace abounds even more exceedingly. God does not promise us that life will not be hard. What He does promise us is that His grace is sufficient to take us through whatever life has to offer. It is sufficient for physical weariness. It is sufficient for physical pain. It is sufficient for grief. Soon we are at the end of our own efforts. It is then and only then that we are able to take our burden to the Lord. It is here that we find ‘all sufficient grace.’ When we cease trying to do all for ourselves, then God does for us. It is the glory of life that it is in our weakness that we find this wondrous grace; for always, man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. From this precious passage of Scripture … (2 Cor 12:7b–10), it is of course right to conclude that Christians are to pray for relief from life’s infirmities. And it is right to expect God to bring deliverance; but we must remember that sometimes relief is impossible and that specific requests may be denied. Every sufferer, however, may rely confidently upon divine power to give patience to endure; and may rest assured that out of the distress and grief that God will bring some abiding good and that through our suffering and grief, God will manifest to others the glories of His divine grace.”
No one enjoys suffering. Many of us wait until we get to the point where we can’t take it anymore, and we cry out to the Lord and we pray for relief. But there are a special few who press on beyond the point of pain, beyond their own problems, and they find ways to give God praise and thanksgiving despite the ordeals they suffer. More importantly, they reach out to others—seeking to love others, to share their testimony and to bring God glory.
I am lucky enough to know someone who falls into that last, special category. Her name is Jacquelyn Spencer. For over 20 years, she has been in and out of the hospital (in fact, she is back in the hospital right now); she is on her third liver transplant. But she is strong … not on her own, but because of her complete reliance on God. She has a loving family (husband, daughter, son) who rides the roller coaster of medical and financial issues with her. I’m sure they have many days where they just wish Jacquelyn was well and that they could have a “normal” family life. But the trust and dependence on God that has grown in their family is simply amazing. And it is contagious; they spread this wonderful trust and the resulting peace to the many different people whose lives they all touch.
Here is one of the many inspiring things that Jacqueline says on her website:
“This battle is a daily one, with dramatic ups and downs that come completely out of left field sometimes. NEVERTHELESS…I am so incredibly thankful for each and every moment because ANY moment could bring forth an opportunity to serve The Lord with all of my heart. I firmly believe that God has allowed me to travel down this rocky road of terminal illness so that God can use me as an example of His Grace, Unconditional Love and also to show others that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow; but all of us have ‘THIS DAY’ to magnify God’s Name in the Highest.” Jacqueline’s Website
This special woman just draws people to her, not because they feel sorry for her, but because she is overflowing with love for the Lord and for others. She has encouraged hundreds of people through her words and her sweet spirit—friends and strangers alike. She knows the power of prayer; she lives deeply immersed in it every day. And she helps the rest of us who keep up with her “story” see it and yearn to be a part of it too.
It is true that Jacqueline suffers, and I hate that she goes through SO MUCH. It is almost more than one person should have to bear … but the wonderful thing is that she knows she doesn’t bear the burden alone. She is covered by a thick blanket of God’s grace and is wrapped in His loving embrace. Perhaps that is why she has such a warm and loving heart. Although we actually have yet to meet in person, we share a very special and rewarding connection. I feel blessed to know her and to share her with you.
No one has a choice in how long they have here on earth, but we all have a choice in how we live out our days and for Whom. Truly connecting with others, loving them, and sharing the joy we have in the Lord is a simple path to peace and fulfillment. As Dorothy Day (cofounder of the Catholic Worker) said, “The older I get, the more I meet people, the more convinced I am that we must only work on ourselves to grow in grace. The only thing we can do about people is to love them.”
So, if you aren’t already, don’t you think it might be time to fully seek the Lord in your life?
“Seek God like never before. Part of seeking Him is allowing for grace space in your life. Grant God’s grace some space in your mind, your heart, your life. When circumstances of life leak you dry, see this emptiness as an opportunity. Instead of reacting out of emptiness, choose to see that this emptiness is the perfect spot for a space of grace in your life. As you give grace to those who ‘don’t deserve it,’ the mercy jars of heaven will lavish it back on you.” —Lysa TerKeurst (blog), A Space for Grace, February 9, 2011
So, live and walk in God’s grace today.
Love others. Be the person He made you to be.
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord will give grace and glory;
no good thing will be withheld from them
that walk uprightly.” —Psalm 84:11
(c) Chip Phillips –Haystack Rock, Oregon