Citrusdal | Clanwilliam | Graafwater | Kompas Gemeente Vredendal | Somerset-Wes

Today, we gather not just as a congregation but as a fellowship of believers navigating through the violent seas of life. Many among us are wrestling with the Goliaths of economic hardship and health challenges, battles that test our faith, endurance, and existence.

In most cases, these calamities were not our fault, and we have not brought these hardships upon ourselves! Sometimes, we are at fault and also need mercy and grace. Nevertheless, knowing what caused the hardship does not always get us out of trouble. Sometimes, bad habits must be acknowledged and replaced by healthy ones. To get out of trouble, one needs a solution, a means of deliverance; we all need HIS ABILITY to empower us to change and move from victim to victor!  

Definition: “His grace enables us to accomplish what is right.” 

Jan Oosthuizen

Our recent sermon series delved into the central theme of nurturing a strong mental attitude amidst adversity and challenges. At this time, the entirety of creation faces judgment due to a collective departure from God’s path, characterized by a willful rebellion against His directives and power. This rebellion has led to widespread consequences across economic, social, environmental, mental, and physical spheres, often leaving the innocent to bear the brunt of these calamities.

The Fate of The INNOCENTS

Reflecting on historical instances of divine judgment recorded in the Bible—such as the great flood, and the subjugation and exile of God’s people to empires like Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Rome—we see a pattern: the further society moves away from God’s way and power the more they eventually self-destruct.  These nations were once used by God as agents of judgment against God’s people, but as His people repent and return, these godless societies ceased to exist eventually.  God’s people remain.  

The sad reality, however, is that during these times of judgement, the faithful and innocent endured hardship, loss, and suffering, too.  The question is, how does one not only survive in times like these but flourish? 

Today, we find parallels in our own context in South Africa, where societal challenges are compounded by arrogance and pride, unsustainable living above one’s means, a diminished moral compass, and a culture of entitlement. This is further exacerbated by overestimating our capabilities, leading to unfulfilled promises and commitments.

Look to the ROCK

“Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.” (Isa 51:1 

We have all received some grace in terms of our mental and physical abilities and personalities. The grace extends to our age, race, gender, culture, location, and specific family. This list of attributes can be seen as powerful enablers but also restraints on what we can or cannot do.  One should have a sober estimation of these abilities, accepting what we cannot change and then developing the ones that we can improve through trial and error.

Moreover, note that most Bible heroes were born in not-so-ideal circumstances. After they decided to do God’s will and follow Him, they accomplished great exploits that gave glory to God in spite of their precarious origins.  

Moses, born a Jewish slave was released down an Egyptian river, King David started as a young shepherd boy, Daniel was made a eunuch in Babylon, and Joseph was sold by his brothers into the slave trade.  Despite these hazardous origin stories, God used them powerfully! What was meant for their shame became their ministry to His Glory! 

Look to the Rock that you have been hewn from, also means “look to the way I have saved you”, or in other words, “from what I have saved you”. Let’s say God saved you from alcoholism, it is then most likely that He will use you to get others delivered from substance abuse too.

SUFFICIENT Grace in Weakness

The Apostle Paul shares a revelation that speaks directly to our condition. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the Lord declares to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s response to this divine assurance is not one of resignation but of triumphant hope. He says, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

See also: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5; Prov 3:34). It is a well known fact, that sometimes people have to “hit rock bottom”, before they receive the grace to change a destructive habit.

Beloved, this is the paradox of grace. It is in our weakest moments, our most desperate hours, that God’s grace shines brightest. This grace is not a mere pat on the back or a sympathetic nod from heaven. No, it is the divine ability to do what is right, to stand when all you want to do is lie down, to believe when doubt surrounds you, to hope when despair seems logical.

The Gift of His SAVING Grace

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10). This reminds us that we are saved by grace through faith, a gift from God. But this grace is not stagnant; it propels us forward. We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. Even in economic hardship, even in health challenges, we are called to live out these good works, prepared for us by God Himself. This grace empowers us to be agents of hope and bearers of light in a world that desperately needs Jesus.

His Grace is Towards GODLINESS

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-12).

This teaches us that the grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all people. It instructs us to say, “No!” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age. Grace educates us in the art of divine living, enabling us to navigate our trials with godliness and dignity.

Empowered to DO RIGHT 

Philippians 2:13 declares: “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”.  This is the engine of grace at work within us, not just to survive our trials but to thrive within them. He transforms our challenges into testimonies of God’s faithfulness and power.

And let us not forget Hebrews 4:16, where we are invited to approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  This throne is not a place of judgment but a wellspring of help, a sanctuary where the weary can find rest, the broken can find healing, and the hopeless can find renewed vision.

Wells of Grace

Each one of us have received a personal calling in life. Whom He calls, He also empowers. Focus on the task that only you can do and try to delegate the rest to others.

There is also a corporate grace upon a company of believers. Saul could prophecy, because he was among the prophets. So be aware of the grace in the house, of the church you belong too. There is a grace that empowers you.

It is therefore also a good thing, to from time to time be exposed to other companies of believers, so as to learn and receive from another. Remember: Visit friends, belong to a family.

In conclusion, my dear brothers and sisters, let us embrace the grace of God in our lives. Let it be the strength in our weakness, the hope in our despair. May we, like Paul, boast all the more gladly in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us. For when we are weak, then we are strong. Strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

May this grace be your anchor and your compass as you navigate through the storms of life. Remember, you are not alone. You are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, a family of believers, and above all, you are held in the everlasting arms of a God whose grace is sufficient for every need.