His Grace is Sufficient by Sharon Earnest
“It is only through grace that we can stand till the last hour. The final celebration of the ages will not take place because of our ability to hold out through the darkness. The only celebration of the final day will be in honor of God’s grace.” Ed Corley
I am convinced that we will not finish our course, hold onto our faith, or overcome in the midst of adversity without God’s grace. My understanding of God’s grace has grown as I have faced different trials. Suffering has taught me to cry out to God to receive His grace in the time of need. God’s grace is not only his unmerited favor, but also his divine enablement and empowerment to face whatever situation confronts us.
I often reflect upon a story told to me by my friend, Pastor Griffin. He had resigned from his church and gone to Bible school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This was a big step of faith as he and his family could only afford to live in low income housing. At that time he had no job and no money. On the weekends he and his wife would pick up soda cans and redeem then so that they could buy food to feed the family and gas for the car. One day my friend was in tears crying out to God. He was feeling sorry for himself and tired of living this way. Then the Lord said to him, “Son, I don’t give pity I give grace.” That changed his life and what he shared with us changed my life.
Earlier in my Christian walk I wanted people’s sympathy, but I have learned that pity doesn’t help me. I need God’s grace. I need His empowerment, His divine enablement to face whatever comes my way. As I read about the life of the Apostle Paul, I marvel at how he was able to finish his course in spite of so much adversity. He describes being “troubled on every side, yet not distressed: perplexed but not in despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed.” In another scripture he speaks of hungering and thirsting, being buffeted and having no certain dwelling place. He also talks about being reviled, persecuted, defamed, and made as the filth of the world.
I personally know of no one who has gone through all that Paul went through to preach the gospel. Jesus said of Paul “ I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” How was he able to endure such suffering and yet maintain his joy in serving the Lord? How was he able to keep God’s purposes before him and not give up? We never see him complaining. The answer is found in I Corinthians 13:10. “But by the grace of God I am what I am; And his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain, but I laboroured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
Paul was divinely enabled by the Lord to fulfill his ministry. He learned to press into God and receive grace. Adversity can be a means to train us to press into God, to seek His face and receive his grace. Grace comes from the throne of God when we are in His presence. Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” It is in the presence of God that we receive His divine enablement to do what we must do and face what we must face.
Years ago I was in a desperate situation. We were living in Colombia when my husband and his partner decided to buy a piece of property on a tributary to the Amazon. It was a day and a half by canoe from any semblance of civilization and even further from a physician. I was pregnant with our second child and recently had my spleen removed due to internal bleeding. It was not a good time to relocate to the jungle and besides I hated snakes. My picture of the jungle was dense vegetation with snakes dangling from every tree. I had no survival training and jungle living was not even on my radar. I felt this move was not the Lord’s will, but attempts to tell my husband fell on deaf ears. What was I to do? I really had no one to talk to.
My parents sent me tickets to visit them in the States before we moved to the jungle. While there I shut myself up in my room and cried out to God. I was desperate to hear from the Lord, desperate for guidance, for wisdom and strength. I needed His grace to face this situation. This went on for several days and I found myself reading I Peter over and over again. I couldn’t help but notice that a major theme of I Peter was suffering.
Finally, the Lord led me to focus on the third chapter of I Peter where Peter tells wives to be submissive to their husbands, giving an example of holy women who trusted in God even as Sarah obeyed Abraham. I determined to read the account of Abraham and Sarah again. As I was meditating on what I read I thought, “ Had I been Sarah, I would have been so angry at Abraham for lying and saying that I was his sister; and all because he wanted to save his own life.” However, I saw that even though Sarah suffered by ending up in a harem, God protected her and delivered her.
All of a sudden my heart was flooded with understanding. The scriptures in I Peter 3 were quickened to me and I knew what I was to do. I was to return to Colombia and go with my husband to the jungle. I was to submit to him trusting that God would deliver me. I also knew I would probably face some suffering until the time came for the Lord to deliver me, but the scripture illuminated unto me contained the divine enablement and power to obey the word. That word contained the grace of God and faith arose in my heart accompanied with supernatural peace. That peace continued during the flight to Colombia and on the two day canoe trip down river to our new farm.
Life on a tributary to the Amazon was difficult and it didn’t help that we had no money. We ate off the land and some of our food was not very palatable. I particularly disliked the monkey we ate when game was scarce. We lived in two rooms adjacent to a molasses mill. The floors were bamboo slats and sometimes pigs slept underneath the house. I spent most of my time cooking over a wood fire, washing clothes and taking care of my toddler. The nearest doctor was two days up river by canoe and then four hours by bus. If we had an emergency we were out of luck. I had no care during my pregnancy, but God gave me the grace to follow Peter’s admonition: “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” ( I Peter 4:19). And He proved Himself faithful to me. Six months after we arrived, I was back in civilization awaiting the birth of my second son.
There are so many of God’s saints who give testimony to God’s grace and have gone through suffering much greater than I. One of them, Darlene Diebler Rose, a missionary to New Guinea experienced God’s grace during imprisonment and torture by the Japanese in World War II. There came a point where she felt she couldn’t go through another interrogation. She poured her heart out to the Lord. “O Lord, I just can’t go through another one. I can’t Lord, I just can’t. Please, no more, Lord.” And his reply came. “But my child, my grace is sufficient for thee. Not is, nor shall be, but it is sufficient.”
Two weeks before Darlene was taken away to be interrogated by the Japanese Kempeitai, the Lord led her to memorize a poem by Annie Johnson Flint who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis all of her life. This had been set to music and she sang it often during her imprisonment. Strength would come and she was enabled to face another day of interrogation and beatings.
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater.
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added affliction, He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance.
And our strength has failed ere the day is half done.
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
The Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure
His power has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus.
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
I no longer fear what may come my way because suffering has taught me that “His grace is sufficient.” I know now that I can tap into that limitless supply of God’s grace whenever I need it. I can proclaim with Darlene Diebler Rose, “Oh, the eternal, ever-present, undiminished supply of God’s glorious grace!”