When Grace Fails in Bad Times

By Justin Johnson

When life is going well, all is healthy, and the sun is shining, it is easy to think of yourself as a spiritual giant.

There is no need to pray and study more than you have time for since God seems to be working for you. Who needs God’s grace when all is going well?

You must be doing something right to have such an easy life. The thought enters your mind, “God must be blessing me.”

Your friends ask, “How is your life in Christ?”
“Blessed!” is your response, knowing that it has been smooth sailing.

What you think is strength because of the circumstances is actually a sign of spiritual weakness. Your spiritual weakness is never exposed, because all is going so well.

Then the storm comes, the car breaks down, and your brother and sister are both diagnosed with fatal cancer. Suddenly what you saw as strength is now exposed to be weak as paper and twice as soggy.

You cry out to God, “Why?”, and, “What have I done wrong?”, but there is no answer. You have not done anything to provoke the storm, the car, or the cancer. Bad things happen, and sometimes to unsuspecting, hard working, and sincere people.

It is at this time of your weakness, that the doctrines of God’s grace are most useful, but are they in you?

Consider the words of the Lord to Paul:

“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

This was not the first time Paul suffered. It was not the first time Paul heard about God’s grace.

Without the proper strengthening of grace doctrine during the good times, these words from the Lord seem cold and unyielding. When you think you need more of God’s grace, God says the grace he has given is sufficient. Resentment starts to fester.

“Does this mean you are not going to help me, Lord?”
“Does this mean you will not intervene on my behalf with a miracle?”
“You can, why don’t you?”

Without understanding God’s will and the sufficiency of God’s grace you are helpless against your circumstances, and God’s grace appears powerless and fails.

In your weakness sincere emotions, doubts, and fears overwhelm your faith. You are faced with a choice, but it is a choice that you should have made long before.

You can discard your faith (if only temporarily) as something that fails under the weight of life’s burdens, make a wish that life turns around, and find comfort in some other person or pleasure; or, you can begin to learn the truth about God’s sufficient grace and through it you can be strengthened by Christ (Phil 4:13).

The right choice is very difficult to make when it seems God is ignoring you. Strength of faith comes from learning about God’s grace through right division.

When to Learn God’s Grace

The best time to be a minister of God’s grace is when life is rotten. The best time to learn about God’s grace is when it is not.

Struggling with bad times is the hard way to learn about God’s grace, but it becomes necessary for your faith to survive.

In bad times you ought to be a minister of God’s grace working through weakness, but because of a weak understanding you become a beggar asking God for deliverance and more help.

The power and strength of God’s grace has the opportunity to rest on us when we are weakest, but only if you already have it working effectually in you (1 Thess 2:13).

The only reason God’s grace fails in bad times is because you have not learned about its sufficiency.

The reason why we study God’s grace week after week is to prepare for ministry, for better or for worse.

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Published: November 9, 2013
Last Modified: March 15, 2018
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