Paul ended his epistles with an encouragement to his readers, that the grace of the Lord would be with them. I had a pastor back in the 80’s that would answer his phone: grace to you. I find it interesting. Paul was called by grace to minister to Gentiles. His writings bear timeless truths that we can daily apply to our lives.
Here is one. Think back to all that Paul went through. If you need a refresher, you can read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. There is no mention that he asked the Lord to deliver him from them. Yet, in 2 Corinthians 12:8, he plead with the Lord three times to remove the thorn in his flesh. The Lord did not remark about the thorn. He very succinctly said in verse 9, “…My grace is sufficient for you…”
Our trials are like Paul’s thorn. The truth the Lord spoke to him, is the same truth you and I are to embrace. The verse continued, “…for My strength is made perfect in weakness…” The revelation of what the Lord said hit Paul’s understanding. He said, “…Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Did you notice that he didn’t use the word ‘grace’ but power? God’s grace becomes our strength to endure. Years ago I would take my dad to a flea market thirty minutes from our home. I would stand at the entrance and tract the folks as they came in. My dad was inside as a vendor. He would sit on his walker and hand out tracts, and give away magnetic signs with Scripture on them.
This one day was really hot. My back was screaming in pain. I didn’t know how I would last another minute. I asked the Holy Spirit what to do. He gave me this thought: stand in my grace box. I pictured a box. Each side said: My grace is sufficient for you. I stood in it in my mind, and I was able to endure. Thereafter, when I was struggling I would say, “Lord, I’m standing in my grace box.” It was a great lesson for me that I still use.
Grace is the power to do all that the Lord has called us to do. In verse 10 Paul said, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul understood that God’s grace was all that he needed in order to accomplish what God had called him to do. When we acknowledge our weakness, His grace rushes in to give us the abundant grace-strength we need to endure.
Back to righteousness. Romans 1:17 says, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith. What is the ‘it’ referring to? Verse 16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
Whatever path the Lord takes us on through our trials, it is His instrument to purify our faith, and to conform our thoughts, purpose, and actions to His will. Psalm 23:3 says, “…He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Every aspect of our trials is all about the Lord. He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. May we all finish well