Church burnings in the 21st century make us question how far we have either come from racial strife in America, or whether we have made any progress at all. There is no doubt that we are living in times of wickedness. Hatred is becoming vocal, and the violence among people is spreading. As we look at other types of violence in our communities, there are people who are starving to death at the borders of the United States of America.
There is a lot going on in world, but regardless of what is happening around us, we have to keep the faith and know that God is still in control. Regardless of how much wickedness and suffering we witness, we cannot stop believing that there is hope, even in times of hopeless. Evil acts like church burnings and church killings are ways in which the adversary seeks to control us and have us living in fear, in fear of one another and losing faith in God.
The only way that we can meet the challenge of what is happening around us is the grace of God. We often express God’s grace as unconditional love that we experience everyday through the grant of a new day, reasonable health, forgiveness of sins, and other acts of grace God shows us. But grace is also strength.
Grace is understanding. Grace is our antidote against fear. Grace replenishes our faith when situations happen that attack our belief in the power of God.
We are reminded through Paul’s prayer that God’s grace is sufficient for any situation. We all remember that Paul complained of a thorn in his flesh. He prayed that God would remove the thorn, but the response was always the same: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” 2 Corinthians 2:9.
We are living among thorns. These thorns are racism. These thorns are condemnation and judgment. These thorns are sexism. They are thorns of jealousy, hate, and misunderstanding. These thorns are people on our jobs that seek to attack and hurt us. These thorns are people in our personal business who need to mind their own business. These thorns are not just people, but they are circumstances and situations that attack our flesh. They lodge into our minds and physical bodies. We have all prayed to have these thorns removed. Instead of removing them, God gives us grace to endure them and overcome them.
God’s grace is sufficient to deal with the thorn. God’s grace deactivates the power of the thorn to hurt us, and gives us the power to endure the thorn. When the thorn seeks to weaken us, God’s grace makes us stronger. It is enough. There are times when we feel like God’s grace is not enough—that we need more to deal with this thorn. We have to keep the faith in the midst of thorns, that God’s grace is perfecting us and strengthening us in spite of the thorns. We need nothing more than God’s grace during these times. God’s grace is sufficient. God’s grace supplies our needs. God’s grace keeps us in our right mind. God’s grace makes ways out of no way. God’s grace is revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is sufficient.