Being a student in Faith Bible Seminary’s M.Div. program, I tend to compartmentalize the year based on the school-year’s semester schedule. Final exams and papers are complete and the spring semester is over, and now things are shifting to the summer semester courses.
As I think back over this past semester, there are many things that stand out to me. One of those things is the amount of hardship that took place in the lives of certain people I know. Memories come back to me like they were yesterday. I can remember the shock and heavy heart that I felt as I heard of the different circumstances that people were going through: multiple people who lost their fathers to terminal illnesses, a friend whose baby daughter was miscarried, a young man being shot by a fellow classmate at Purdue, another Purdue student whose mother and sister were murdered, a son dying at the prime of his life, a best friend passing away, and many other hardships that were experienced by the members of Faith Church. The list could go on and on.
Comfort in Hardship
I personally would have to say that I have not experienced a great deal of suffering compared to most people. God graciously decided that, up to this point in my life, I would not experience such pain and loss of losing someone very close to me. This does not mean that my life does not have this on the horizon, but it is up to me to trust the Lord’s plan for my life as I move forward.
Even though I have not experienced the same circumstances that these people have experienced, that does not mean that I cannot encourage them with truth from God’s Word. The Bible is very clear that God is the source of all comfort in times of pain and suffering, and He gives us comfort so that we may share the same comfort with others.
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”
– 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NASB)
One of the many comforts that we can share with people who are going through hardship and suffering is this: God’s grace is enough for us to get through the day because we can depend on His promises. When life seems to be going along just fine, getting through the day tends to be something in the back of our minds. For those who are experiencing loss, getting through the day without losing hope can be a struggle. When our world seems to be crashing down, it is in that time of testing that we must choose what we will look to for our foundation of hope in the midst of sadness.
Apart from God and the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ, this life can look very grim indeed. And when one looks at the big picture of their life, it can be discouraging because we wonder where the purpose of life is. But, with Jesus in our lives as our Lord and Savior from our sin, we have purpose. We have hope that there is joy during, and at the end, of this life. When we see the depth of our sin, and then see that grace is available to us through Christ’s sacrifice, there is great joy to be found.
The apostle Paul was a man who was very accustomed to hardship and suffering, but he still found his hope in God’s grace. He rested in the fact that God’s grace remained over him so that he was no longer condemned before God for his sin (Romans 8:1), and he also found hope in the fact that God would not give him more than he could handle. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul recalls a personal hardship that was difficult to accept. He asked God to take it away from him. God did respond, but He did not take it away. Instead, He gave Paul a much greater hope: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
“9 And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
As we read this passage in times of suffering, it can be hard to see God’s grace for what it is. Our immediate surroundings are very evident while, what God is doing in the midst of it, can be not as obvious. But, we can rest assured that God’s grace is enough because of what God’s Word says. If we are in Christ, He cares for us with a love that cannot be matched. The cross is the biggest evidence of that. God adopted us so that we can receive the greatest gift of all; namely Himself.
If you are going through hardship, be encouraged that God’s grace is enough. And if you know someone going through hardship, be sure to remind them of that. God cannot be limited by anything. He is infinite and perfect. He is just and full of love. His grace is greater than we can ever imagine.
Joy For The Soul
I want to leave this post with a quote from C.H. Spurgeon that sums up the magnitude and sufficiency of God’s grace in such a beautiful way. I find it encouraging and have shared it with others in hopes that they would be uplifted as well:
“The other evening I was riding home after a heavy day’s work; I felt very wearied and sore depressed, when swiftly and suddenly as a lightning flash that text came to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ I reached home and looked it up in the original, and at last it came to me in this way. ‘My grace is sufficient for THEE,’ and I said, ‘I should think it is, Lord,’ and burst out laughing. I never fully understood what the holy laughter of Abraham was until then. It seemed to make unbelief so absurd. It was as though some little fish, being very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the [Thames] river dry, and Father Thames said, ‘Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for thee.’ Or it seemed like a little mouse in the granaries of Egypt, after the seven years of plenty, fearing it might die of famine. Joseph might say, ‘Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for thee.’ Again, I imagined a man away up yonder on a lofty mountain, saying to himself, ‘I breathe so many cubic feet of air every year, I fear I shall exhaust the oxygen in the atmosphere;’ but the earth might say, ‘Breathe away, O man, and fill thy lungs ever, my atmosphere is sufficient for thee.’ Oh, brethren, be great believers! Little faith will bring your souls to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your souls.”
– C.H. Spurgeon. Quoted from Personal Reminiscences of Charles Haddon Spurgeon by W. Williams