I left the church service today with mixed emotions. Andy's message was on the passage in II Corinthians 12 where Paul says that although he pleaded with God on three occasions to take away the thorn in his flesh, God said no. He told Paul that His grace would be sufficient for him, and that His power would be made known in Paul's weakness. Here was Paul, a faithful servant of Christ, fully surrendered to serving God and advancing the gospel, and God was telling him to live with his affliction in order to show the power of God through his weakness.
It's easy, when things are going well, to acknowledge God and give Him the glory for our success. That's the position we all want to be in. But what about those occasions, or those seasons even, when life has taken a turn for the worse?
As Andy pointed out, we have permission to ask God to change our circumstances. Paul did it. Even Jesus prayed for the Father to find another way to save mankind so He wouldn't have to endure death on the cross. God often grants our requests, and improves our circumstances. But sometimes He doesn't, and He says, "My grace is sufficient for you."
Do you believe that God's grace is sufficient? The service closed with a video of an interview with a family in the church. The husband was a successful builder and developer. His business was devastated by the crash of our economy, and he and his wife lost everything. They had gone from living in a beautiful home to moving in with his parents. They have prayed for God to restore them financially, but He hasn't. But instead of turning their backs on God, they have sought refuge in Him and have experienced His sustaining grace. They don't know if their lives will ever be the same. But they do know that God's grace is sufficient for them.
I know that the encouragement in this message is that God's grace is always sufficient. But how can we not also be discouraged, knowing that God doesn't always choose to improve our circumstances? I believe the answer is this: Surrender everything you have, everyone you love, your entire world to God and trust Him with all of it. That is what this couple did.
I believe God received glory from their testimony today. Though their future is uncertain, they see God in their lives.
Can you see God?
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