Friday, July 28, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: God's Grace

God Promises to Give You Grace
A devotional by Essie Faye Taylor

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”–2 Corinthians 12:9 (CSB)

I sat quietly in disbelief after receiving the news that three people in my life were now deceased. Two men of faith who mentored me for decades, suddenly fell asleep (they died). A younger cousin, who I'd seen just months prior, was suddenly taken from our midst.

My heart ached, but the tears would not come. Death can be unexpected and sudden. I felt as if I’d been punched in my gut and the wind was knocked out of me because this pain caught me off guard. There was nothing I could do about this loss. I was emotionally and physically exhausted from fighting in this game called life. I was working two jobs in order to provide for my family and still I was barely making ends meet. I was overwhelmed to say the least and I cried out to God, “Lord, help! This is too much to bear.”

If we are honest, as Christians, we find ourselves at a place of overwhelm a lot. Life throws us curveballs, monkey wrenches, and game-changers unexpectedly. We are oftentimes faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. This is a part of our faith walk. Our faith does not make us exempt from the adversity of life. However, our faith sustains us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The Bible says we should not fear evil because God is with us! This truth is tested when we are in the valley because it is then when we experience feelings of despair, loneliness, depression, anxiety, doubt, pain, anguish. We feel defeated as we struggle to walk through the valley. However, we can find solace in the fact that God is with us. He is present to console us, guide us, and provide for us in that place of hardship.

In 2 Corinthians 12:6-9, Paul finds himself in an unfortunate situation. He sought the Lord diligently multiple times, asking God to remove a thorn from Him. He uses a thorn to express a point of extreme difficulty, pain, complexity, and/or controversy. According to three Old Testament scriptural references (Numbers 33:55, Joshua 23:13 and Judges 2:3), Paul’s “thorn” was a demonic angel or messenger sent by Satan to continually stir up persecution against him.

It is documented throughout the book of Acts that virtually everywhere Paul visited, he was persecuted. 2 Corinthians 11:23-26 details his experience. According to this scripture, Paul testifies that he was imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel several times, beaten, and had near death experiences as he spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Five times he received thirty-nine lashes and a beating from the Jews. He was beaten with rods three times and pelted with stones. He was shipwrecked three times and spent time in the open sea. He was constantly on the run from people who wanted to harm him. His life was full of persecution, but this was God’s plan for Paul. Remember: Jesus prophesied that Paul would suffer many things for the sake of Christ at his conversion on the road to Damascus.

After seeking God to take this burden away, God responds by promising His grace. God doesn’t remove Paul’s “thorn”. Instead, He gave him the strength to endure it. Grace is the God-given ability to do what God requires. Grace is giving us what we don’t deserve: ability to conquer and overcome. God enables us to do what we cannot, within our own power. The grace of God is sufficient–it is enough for us to endure hardness as a good soldier.

God promises grace over our lives every day so we can navigate life’s hard situations. The Bible says His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23) and that He is always with us (Matthew 28:20). Not only is God with us, He enables us to stand in the face of adversity even when it feels like our knees will buckle. And if our knees buckle, we can find grace, mercy, and help at His throne. When we are weak, He is strong. In essence, we find our strength through our relationship with God. We lean on the strength of an all-powerful God and our character is perfected. In our weakness, we discover His power and greatness as we walk through life’s valleys. We grow to know and love Him more deeply in trying times and we are better for it.

We can do difficult things and overcome obstacles through the power of Christ.

Call to Action:

1. Acknowledge your true feelings. It’s okay not to be okay. Take that overwhelm, anger, frustration, etc. to God. He is able to accept anything you bring to Him. He can handle your anger, frustration, and pain. Give it all to Him and exchange them for His grace.

2. Face the situation head on. Know that you have sufficient grace to stand firm by faith in the midst of any difficulty. God is with you. 

3. Lean into God’s presence. Find solace in His presence through prayer, mediation, praise, and worship. Even silence, when you don’t have the words, allows you to tap into God’s presence. 

4. Believe that God enables you to accomplish what He requires. If you need to grieve properly, forgive, confess, repent and change your lifestyle, it may not be easy. But God will empower you through His grace to do it. It may be difficult, but it is possible.

5. Remember: All things are possible to him who believes. God’s grace is enough and by faith through grace He equips us to address whatever life brings our way.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your grace that is enough for me. It is enough to sustain and comfort me when I’m in a state of overwhelm, sadness, hopelessness, and despair. You enable me to stand by grace and in faith when life hits hard. When misfortune catches me unaware, I am not alone. You are with me and You are not caught off guard. You know the ending from the beginning and You know the way that I take. Help me to believe in the power and presence of Your grace in every circumstance I find myself experiencing. Thank you, Father, for hearing and answering my prayers. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection:
“Were It Not For Grace” by Larnelle Harris. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Essie Taylor is an author, educator, minister, youth advocate, recording artist, podcaster, and improviser. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Rockford College. 

She is a veteran educator of Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language, and Spanish Language Acquisition with National Board Teacher Certification. She is an advocate of lifelong learning, language learning, and multiculturalism.

Essie is the CEO of KenMar Press, an author agency, and The Essie Faye Collection. Essie is the author of Finding the Love You Deserve: 30 Lessons in Self-Love & Acceptance, and Finding The Love Your Deserve: A 60-Day Healing Journal For Women of Faith.

She is deeply committed to motivating minorities, women, and youth to pursue God while chasing their dreams and carving out their life’s path. She loves God, people, and helping others.

Essie has been a Christian for nearly all of her 39 years. She was born again at 15 years old. She has been a bilingual worship leader and interpreter for 10+ years. By the grace of God, Essie helped to establish bilingual ministries at five churches in her young life. She is a survivor of domestic violence (verbal and emotional abuse) and marital abandonment in a prior marriage.

Essie is a Chicago native. She lives in Chicago with her husband Donald Taylor II.

Connect with Essie:

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