Summary: ALL ABOUT SUSTAINING GRACE...good for funerals, too!
II Cor. 12:7-10
v. 9—sing “For His grace is sufficient…”
Our church body has suffered many losses thru the years, many of you have suffered great loss this year…some this week.
You get up some mornings hoping that perhaps it was a bad dream…but it’s still there, it’s real, and you have to deal w/ it.
God is the only one who can help in times of great grief and heartache. He will comfort you if you’ll let Him…He understands!
Ill.—Footprints in the sand: that’s what we call “Sustaining Grace.”
We all know about saving grace…
John Newton was a drunken slave-trader. After coming to Christ as his Savior he wrote: “Amazing Grace, how sweet…” (quote)
That’s saving grace! All born again Christians have experienced it!
But there is another kind of grace available…not to lost sinners, but only to children of God: Sustaining grace!
It’s the grace that holds you up during times of trial/sorrow/loss/grief/temptation/stress/pressure
It’s the grace that keeps you going when you don’t think you CAN keep going.
Another songwriter wrote:
“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase
To added affliction He addeth His mercy
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure
His power has no boundary known unto men
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!”
(the more you need the more you get!)
What Sustaining grace is NOT:
1. The absence of normal emotions
Rather, it helps you to work thru them
Ill.—not the absence of sorrow and tears…I’ve heard a preacher say that a Christian should be so full of joy that they walk into the funeral home laughing and rejoicing…that’s utter nonsense!
Tears, sorrow, and grief are a gift from God that help to relieve built up tension and emotion. They show how much we feel, care, and how deeply we love.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then tears speak a million words that we can’t get out…but “tears are a language that God understands!”
Rev. 21—God will wipe away all tears…but until then, it’s ok to cry, to grieve, to groan… God understands.
And sustaining grace is not the absence of these normal emotions.
2. Not the absence of Anger
Though a negative emotion, it’s normal.
Anger w/ God/doctor/others who say the wrong things/toward yourself, wishing you had done something differently.
“Lord, it’s not fair/doesn’t make sense/why?”
Sustaining grace is not the absence of anger…it’s a normal emotion at those times…and God will help us work thru the anger, if we’ll let Him!
21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. 22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: F220 I was as a beast before thee. F221 23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.
20 Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.
Sustaining grace will grant you access to the victory that you need over haunting emotions, and replace them w/ peace and trust, and contentment and joy!
Sustaining grace is not the absence of anger, but it will help you get thru it and get the victory.
3. Not the absence of Guilt
When there’s no one to place the blame on, we turn the blame inward, and give place to the devil.
We think of what we should have done differently/when we said the wrong thing/didn’t say sorry, or I love you/we think of arguments or misunderstandings that could have been avoided/what we didn’t say and wish we had…but now it’s too late. We think of how we sacrificed what’s really important on the altar of the urgent.
Sustaining grace is not the absence of guilt…but even in our guilt…God understands.
And where we’ve truly failed, God will forgive.
And when it’s a false sense of undeserved guilt, God will help it to dissipate. And then He’ll teach us to speak, live, and love just as we wished we had before!
These who have suffered loss would admonish you never to take anyone for granted…and to give hugs/share sentiments as if they were your last!
Ill.—miners trapped in PA mine/rescued/young man said, “it was the 1st time ever I left w/out kissing her goodbye”. That was more on his mind underground than anything!
Ill.—In a previous ministry there was a dear couple who seemed so perfect in public, but behind the scenes they struggled, like any of us! But in a low time, after an argument, they both left for work in a huff, he left a note on her pillow that said, “I hate you.” He died that day in a freak accident that shook the whole state…and she returned home that night from the hospital to the note he left!