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God's Sufficient Grace

"He said unto me: My grace is sufficient for thee." (2Corinthians 12:2)

Paul had a "thorn" in the flesh.
Paul was not alone.
There is a thorn in every life.
There is a cross even in the heart of God.
Our Saviour wore a crown of thorns.

There is no song that human hearts are singing but has some note of haunting sadness.
There is no rose that does not have some thorn amid its leaves.
There is no garden without a weed at times.
There are no eyes which have not shed tears of sorrow.
There is no soul that is free from secret strife.
There is no sky without a cloud.

Down through the years, we have become more and more aware that pain is present
in the plan of life.
"Suffering has made saints.
Pain has matured character

It is well that we should sing with Adelaide Proctor:
"I thank Thee, Lord, that all our joy
Is touched with pain;
That shadows fall on brightest hours,
That thorns remain:
So that earth's bliss may be our guide
And not our chain."

Paul's thorn was never disclosed to us.
Paul begged that his thorn might be removed.
He thought it was exceptionally grievous.
There is no hint that Paul complained. He prayed.

Each of us may think that our thorn is worse than that of others.
Affliction should drive us to God, not from Him.
If our prayer preceded our complaining, we would probably bless rather than blame.
Paul's prayer was definite and repeated.
Paul said: "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me."

Some pray for everything in general and get nothing in particular.
Others call upon God, but do not stay at heavens gate until the answer comes.
This was not true with Paul.
His cry was urgent and persistent.

Paul's prayer, then, was not answered?
No! Yes! Which? Both!
It was answered and gloriously answered, but not in the way that we would acknowledge.
The answer was: "He said unto me: my grace is sufficient for Thee."
"He said unto me" -- the Risen One speaks directly to his tested servant.
This is such beautiful evidence of our Lord's tender concern.

There have been times, perhaps, when some dire agony has wrung from our hearts the cry,
"Does Jesus care?"
Why has this trouble come?
Why is it not removed?
Why is my prayer not answered?

"Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song?
When for my deep grief I find no relief
Though my tears flow all the night long?"

Does Jesus really know and feel and care at such times?
Let the risen Saviour's personal assurance to Paul be a heartening guarantee
that He does indeed care.
He is "touched with the feeling of our infirmity."
"He said unto me."
Perhaps, no verse of Scripture has brought more comfort to Christian hearts than this one.
"He said unto me." This is a personal experience.
"My grace is sufficient for thee."

This is a subline and satisfying answer.
"My grace is sufficient for thee."
It is a paradox that God sometimes answers our prayers by not answering them.

I remember how the mother of Augustine, Monica, pleadingly prayed to God that her son
may not go to Rome, with all its temptations.
Yet, God allows him to go.
And there, in the very place which she had dreaded, her son Augustine is converted to Christ.
What looked to be a refusal of God was in reality the wisest and most marvelous of all answers.

Dr. James Denney says, "A refusal is an answer if it is so given that God and the soul henceforth
understand one another."

God may not always grant the spoken wish, but He will never withhold that which we need.
God not only grants prayers; He guides lives.

"My grace" -- only the absolutely Divine Christ could say this.
"My grace" -- those words involve omnipotence, omniscience, the possession of all divine resources,
the perfect knowledge of all human needs, and the perpetual presence of Christ everywhere with His people.
His grace is exhaustless -- absolutely adequate, infallibly, unfailing.

The supply has exact correspondence with the need; never too much, never too little,
but perfect adequacy.
God's supply is never too soon, never too late, but timed to the tick of the clock
and to the beat of the heart.
Grace for tomorrow's needs will not come today.
Grace for today will not come tomorrow.

There is the story which happened in the old days -- the martyr days -- about a condemned Christian
who lay in his prison cell one night knowing that at daybreak he will be burned at the stake.
The prospect was terrible.
How could he endure such a horrible death.

He picked up the candle that flickered in his cell, and tried an experiment.
He held his little finger in the tiny flame.
He screamed at the pain and quickly withdrew his finger.
How could he possibly undergo the torture of the whole body in the flames?

Yet, at sunrise he went to his death with irrepressible exuberance.
Amid the circling flames he testified to the all sufficient grace of Christ,
and sang with a heavenly ecstasy shining from his face.
When the real emergency came, sufficient grace was given to make him "more than conqueror."

It is always true.
"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Sufficient unto the evil is His grace.

Divine grace is infinite and exhaustless, but it is never dispensed superfluously.
We must not expect that grace will be given to do the needless.
There are some Christians who stir up needless opposition to themselves,
and then, think that they are the Lord's special heroes because they have to suffer.
We must guard against this.
Grace is only promised for real need.

"My Lord has never said that He would give
Another's grace without another's thorn:
What matter, since for every day of mine
Sufficient grace for me comes with the morn?

And though the future brings some heavier cross,
I need not cloud the present with my fears:
I know the grace that is enough today
Will be sufficient still through all the years."

Christ's purpose is to make us equal to our circumstances rather than reduce our circumstances
to what we shortsightedly think they ought to be.

Dr. Phillips Brooks has said:
"Do not pray for easy lives!
Pray to be stronger men.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers.
Pray for powers equal to your tasks."

Thorns and trials are blessings indeed if they bring the opportunity for the grace of Christ
to perfect our character.
Some flowers, such as the rose, must be crushed before its full fragrance is released.
Some medals, such as gold, must be flung into the furnace before it reaches its full value and purity.

It is often true with Christians that we must be laid low before we will look high.
Whenever God sends a trial with one hand, He gives grace with the other.
This is how trials become triumphs.
The very things which seem to break us are the things which really make us.
"My grace is sufficient for thee."

Underneath all our care is God's care for us.
Underneath us are the everlasting arms of an all sufficient grace which never fails.
Grace is imparted at the every step of the way; grace for the big things and grace for the little things.

"His grace is great enough to meet the great things,
The crashing waves that overwhelm the soul,
The roaring winds that leave us stunned and breathless,
The sudden storms beyond our life's control.

His grace is great enough to meet the small things,
The little pin-prick troubles that annoy,
The insect worries, buzzing and persistent,
The squeaking wheels that grate upon our joy."

"My grace is sufficient for thee."
What a wondrous promise that is!
The more we think upon it, the more glorious it becomes.
We are such needy creatures that only God Himself knows the extent of our needs.
And God Himself, in Christ Jesus, pledges to meet us at every point of our need.

The promise is in the present tense: "My grace is sufficient."
His grace is sufficient now.
I need grace for each moment as it comes, and His grace is as constant as my breathing.

"Grace when the sun is shining, Lord,
Grace when the sky is black,
Grace when I get the unkind word,
Grace on the too smooth track,
Grace when I'm elbowed into a nook,
Grace when I get my turn,
Grace when the dinner will not cook,
Grace when the fire won't burn.

Grace when my duties all go wrong,
Grace when they all go right,
Grace when it's gladness, praise, and song,
Grace when I have to fight,
Grace when my clothes are fresh and new,
Grace when they're old and dull,
Grace when my purse is empty too,
Grace when it's over-full.

Grace when the saved ones don't act saved,
Grace when they all blame me,
Grace when denied the good I've craved,
Grace when I'm given my plea,
Grace when the midnight hours I tell,
Grace when the morn is nigh,
Grace when I'm healthy, strong, and well,
Grace when I come to die."

"My grace is sufficient for thee."
We must learn to completely trust and prove His wisdom as well as His power.
God knows us through and through, and, He promises that "He will not suffer us to be tempted
above that we are able to bear
If our great God does not immediately deliver us from a problem or a trouble, He will teach us
how to have continuous victory through a moment by moment provision of His all sufficient grace.
Anything which keeps us conscious of our own weakness and keeps us close to Christ
is a sanctifying blessing.

Our human extremity is our Lord's opportunity.
We need not fear for He will never fail us.
And if, we keep our hearts open to the inflow of His grace we shall find that every day
and forevermore it is enough.
So, we need not fear for thousands have found it to be true that His grace is sufficient.
The source is infinite.
The supply is proportionate.
The sustenance is individually adequate.

"He giveth more grace as the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as the labors increase.
To added affliction he addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reached the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
And out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth, and giveth again."

Sermon adapted from several sources.