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The gift of grace

“My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Did you hear about the man who went to a faith healer and asked for prayer for his hearing? When the healer asked which ear, the man said, it’s not my ears — it’s this Tuesday at the courthouse.

Please understand me — I believe in healing. In fact, Jesus healed many people during his earthly ministry. Healing was prominent in the Gospels and the book of Acts, and about 20-30 percent of the Gospel record is related to healings.

But following His resurrection, Jesus did not heal a single person. We are surprised to discover almost nothing about healing outside the Gospels. Very little teaching about divine healing is taught in the New Testament letters.

Might it be possible that God’s plan doesn’t always call for relief of pain and the absence of suffering? I don’t mean to cause doubt over anyone’s faith. I suggest it because of the believers having written about in the Bible.

Consider the apostle Paul. Paul wrote over two-thirds of the New Testament. In a sense, he took over where Jesus left off. He was a champion for the cause of Christianity. He traveled extensively spreading the gospel. He had incredible spiritual experiences, heard inexpressible words and received extraordinary revelations (2 Cor. 12: 2-7). If anyone would be exempt from pain and suffering, you would think it would be Paul. Yet he knew pain, suffering and the absence of healing.

Paul’s experience teaches us an important lesson when physical healing does not come.

Paul lived with an unknown affliction he referred to as “a thorn in my flesh” (2 Cor. 12: 7). This affliction was more than a thorn you might get while picking roses. It was an unrelenting physical handicap that dogged him for life.

The thorn pierced into the very center of his heart and soon became a matter of intense prayer. The intensity of his pain was matched by the intensity of his prayer.

Paul asked for relief from pain and God gave him the wonderful promise: My grace is sufficient for your life. When the request is denied, the body is ill, and the hope of recovery is gone, God says, “I’m all that you need.”

If God did nothing more for us than to save us from hell, can we complain? If God saved our souls but we have a physical ailment, would He be unjust? If God grants us the riches of His heavenly kingdom, can we complain about physical pain? There are those times when God, having heard our requests, gives us His grace. And it is sufficient.

There is a lot of pain and suffering in our world. You might think I’m insensitive or uncaring to you or your loved one’s suffering. I don’t like the thought or want you to be in pain. But from what the Bible teaches, God has something more for you. God’s grace is sufficient.

John Moxley is pastor of First Baptist Church in Dillwyn. His email address is jmoxleydillwyn@gmail.com