“Jesus doesn’t just hang out with winners.” – Sarah Bessey
I was listening to Jen Hatmaker’s For The Love podcast this morning with her guest, Sarah Bessey. Sarah made the statement above and it pinged my heart, as Truth does! I was making a gratitude list during God-time this morning, and grace was high on my list. Sarah’s statement started me thinking about how available grace is to those of us who need it most. Doesn’t have to be an eloquent or beautiful ask – Jesus help me! is enough. Then, if we pay attention (I’m guilty of trying to skip the listening part), God answers our SOS. I battle chronic depression, and for me grace can be a lifesaver.
God gives us grace to handle every situation in our lives. Whether we are winning or losing on any given day, even in any given minute, God’s grace is with us. For me, that seems like a small consolation when I am at a low point in life. In 2 Cor. 12:9 when Paul asked God to remove the thorn in his flesh, God answered: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness”. (Paul doesn’t say much about the thorn.) When I find something in scripture that doesn’t make sense to my spirit, I have learned to look at the verses from a different perspective, “flip the script” so to speak. So, I went to an interlinear translation of 2 Cor 12:9 and started digging…
Here’s a different interpretation of the verse: My unearned blessing will keep off/raise/take up or away/remove your issue, because my power and ability lifts and carries, brings to an end or discharges (like paying off debt) areas where you are suffering or not strong.
This is beginning to ring true in my spirit! Paul said he asked God to remove his weakness three times before God spoke to him in verse 9. I was taught in church that Paul was not released from the thorn in his flesh, and he thought it was to keep him humble. (I totally disagree with his reasoning, but that’s another post.)
I believe God was saying “I’ve got this. I’ve got you while you walk this out. Not saying it won’t be crazy hard, not saying it won’t suck at times. You will get through this.” (Yes, that is how God talks to me. I need communication without pretense from Them.)
Here’s the bottom line: God never intended Paul to suffer from this for the rest of his life. Just like God doesn’t intend us to suffer today. Doesn’t mean we don’t, but it’s not from God. Did you get that? SUFFERING IS NOT FROM GOD. God doesn’t have some lesson to teach us by making us sick or causing physical/mental suffering, loss or trauma. Good parents don’t do that to their kids. God’s intention is for us all to be well and thriving all the time. For some of us healing and restoration happens in this life; for some of us it happens in the next. But it does happen.
God’s lessons don’t come wrapped in pain; they come wrapped in the grace that rushes in and surrounds us like a warm blanket when we are weak or sick or injured or suffering. And get this: your grace is just that, yours, and yours alone. It is specifically tailored to your situation, your personality. It is grace you would not have if you weren’t dealing with something beyond your ability to handle. And God is lavish with Their grace, like devoted parents bringing help to a sick child, always bringing more than enough.
Even when we don’t feel like it, especially when we don’t feel like it. We can rest in the truth and promise that God is right beside us, covering us with grace and love.