A lot of people I know are struggling — it’s been this way for a while. They’re walking through difficult circumstances, ones that remind us that this world is not our ultimate home. Trials that make you thankful that this world is not all there is!
Other friends are overwhelmed, but can’t point specifically to a circumstance that explains their struggle. I’ve been part of this latter group.
Recently, I found myself discouraged and defeated for no apparent reason — at least no apparent good reason. My mind had become a playground for negative thoughts, ones that ranged from things that weren’t true to seeing life through the lens of a glass half empty.
The negative thoughts took up increasingly more time in my mind, gaining more control of my emotions and affecting how I spent my time. It wasn’t pretty. And yet I’ll tell you: I felt somewhat powerless to stop them.
One morning I cried out to God in desperation. I can summarize the plea in one word: HELP! In a matter of minutes, I sensed God speaking from His Word: You are receiving the grace of God in vain.
The words came straight from 2 Corinthians 6:1:
“As God’s co-workers, we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.”
The realization and conviction came on strong: I WAS receiving the grace of God in vain. I was ignoring it, acting as if it wasn’t available to me. In other words, I wasn’t calling upon, relying on and choosing to live by God’s grace given to us in Christ Jesus.
I’d become a victim. I was living from a place of defeat when God’s grace provides everything you and I need to live in victory.
How do we not receive the grace of God in vain?
The grace of God is amazing. God — through the death and resurrection of Jesus — not only secured our eternity with Him in heaven, but made a victorious, hopeful, joyful, impactful life here on earth completely possible.
For many years, the grace of God was an elusive concept to me. It was something that saved me, yet I didn’t understand how to receive the power of it for everyday life. In recent years, I’ve come to understand grace as God’s power poured out for and in our weakness.
Salvation is not only a one-time occurrence. Daily, God wants to deliver us from ourselves — from self-seeking, self-empowered, and therefore, defeated lives.
What does that mean for you?
With the challenge of 2 Corinthians 6:1, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 holds a promise we must claim. The apostle Paul, after asking God to remove a “thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan” from him, heard Jesus speak:
“My grace is sufficient for you; for My strength and power are made perfect and show themselves most effective in your weakness” (from NIV and AMP).
Paul’s words surrounding this statement by Jesus blow my mind:
“For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.”
Really? Let me be honest – I’m not there yet. But I want to be!
I want to be weak for the very reasons Paul stated:
- Being so enabled him to live “for Christ’s sake.”
- Being weak was an opportunity to experience Christ’s strength, for Christ’s strength to be made perfect in us, for Christ’s power to rest on us.
Do we even know what this could be like? Have we even tapped into a fraction of it? God’s power and strength available to us are, according to Ephesians 1:19-20:
“Power like the working of His mighty strength which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion.”
God’s grace is a force and power like no other. And it’s available to us.
God’s grace is sufficient. Will you receive it?
For those of you in a real struggle right now, I don’t write these words lightly. I write them because they’re true. They’re your only hope. They’re your only source of great strength.
Where do you start? Admit you are weak. Honestly, to think otherwise is pride.
Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing of eternal significance. We may be saved and going to heaven, but apart from living by the grace of God through Jesus, we will live a life of little power and no lasting significance.
Quit trying to suck it up and do better. Any strength you can muster is short-lived, and cannot produce results with eternal significance that bring glory to God.
Admit you are weak and then call upon, insist on, rely upon — put all your eggs in the basket of — God’s strength.
God’s power raises dead men to life.
We were dead in our sins before we accepted Christ.
Living in our strength, unaware of our neediness for God and His strength, does — in a very tangible sense — cause us to live dead (unresponsive) to the power of God.
As a woman who wants to wake up each morning with excitement and confidence for all that lies ahead, I now see that the best route is to wake up weak – weak in my strength – so I’ll cry out for Christ’s power to be poured out on me.
And we receive Christ’s power and strength just as we received our salvation — by faith. We receive it by believing, trusting in and relying on God to provide it. By asking and trusting God to meet us at our point of deep need and pour out His Spirit in such a way that we walk through the day, we walk through the struggle, with the powerful provision of Christ in us.
So whether or not you wake up overwhelmed, whether or not you are in a great struggle, I implore you to acknowledge your weakness.
Tell God how much you need Him.
Inquire of and require Him to meet your need.
Then walk in His strength, because His grace is sufficient.
Other posts I hope will encourage you: