Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Having Enough

For those of you who have been following our family's story, you know that this past year has contained a lot of crappiness.  It has also has included meaningful moments of great joy, beauty, and discovery.  But mostly it's been pretty bad.  (Of course, I guess it could be worse!)

Earlier this year I attended a lecture given by a noted author and spiritual director.  At the end of her presentation she guided us through a prayer based on the 23rd Psalm.  The beginning of the prayer was paraphrased to say, "The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need."  I could barely choke out the words and in the ensuing minutes of meditation felt increasingly disturbed.  How could I say I have everything I need when my precious child was painfully snatched from me?  How could I say I have everything I need when our house was broken into after the funeral and I lost most of our videos of him?  How could I say I have everything I need when months have passed since our last paycheck and bills are looming?  Believe me, the last thing I felt I had was everything I need.

Since we lost Vincent, I have felt crushed, abandoned, disappointed, angry.  It has not been easy.  But somehow I have been able to wake up and get out of bed each morning, (even if I get back in later on) take care of my 4 year old, read, write, and worship.  Some days I feel my sanity stretched to the limits, having chimerical conversations with people I believe have wronged me, disappointed me.  I'm often scared, furious, apathetic. Yet somehow in the midst of confusion, disappointment, frustration,  I have come to believe that God's grace is simply enough.  That it's sufficient for what I need to survive, even when it doesn't feel like it.

To keep the Apostle Paul from being needlessly conceited over his supernatural experiences and revelations he was given "a thorn in the flesh" - an unidentified something so troublesome, so unlivable, that three times Paul pleaded with God to remove it.  Three times.  And God simply replied that His grace was "sufficient."  The word for "sufficient" in the Greek literally means "to suffice" or to "be enough" or "be content".  In other words, God's grace is exactly what you need.  Not what you need to be live a blissfully happy life, with ne'er a care in the world.  Instead, God's grace gives us exactly what we need to carry on, to make it through the day.  Paul himself may not have always felt that way, (hence the repeated requests for change) but that's what he got.  Sufficient grace, plus the added reassurance that God's strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Before my life fell apart I used to have many misconceptions of grace.  I used to think that God's grace was overabundantly more than enough for any difficult circumstance.  I used to think that God would somehow empower people who go through unthinkable situations to get through them gloriously, or at least with strength to spare.  Not anymore.  

Instead, I've found the grace God gives us when we go through difficult circumstances to be a grace that's just enough.  It's not effluent, spilling over the top.  It doesn't make difficult, horrible circumstances uncomplicated, smooth, easy-peasy.  God's grace doesn't give you a magical life that can make you feel triumphant and joyful in the worst of times.  Instead, I've found that living in terrible situations with God's grace is living with just enough.  Over this past year of grief and loss I've found that God's grace has made the unbearable somehow bearable. I wouldn't have thought I could survive the death of my child, and yet I have.

...The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Rebecca, I so needed this today.....both messages have been brought to my attention this morning, letting go and letting God (Grace) and having everything I need...(not necessarily $'s)

Donna (Kendon's Ama)

Kimberley said...

Wow..that is a lot to ponder. Thank you for sharing once again from your heart....May you continue to find His Grace each and every moment.

Aimee McCoy said...

Preach it! Love this, not that your life has been hard, but that you have survived it with God, and that He is enough. Thanks for blessing me with this.

Anonymous said...

I guess I've never thought about 'sufficient' in that light, but it makes sense...as experiencing different situations I too have sometimes wondered how I can possibly go on or bear any more. And yet, I've made it through by His grace.

Thank you for the reminder that is so needful in each of our lives. And even still as I think of your family and your loss, I pray that His grace continues to be enough...that He continues to meet your needs and that you will be blessed. Love and prayers!

Dan Stringer said...

God has this uncanny, almost telepathic way of knowing exactly what his children need. It's as if he's been a grieving parent or something.

Deanna said...

That's beautiful!

Kristin said...

Amazingly well said, Becca. What insight into grace... something I have been thinking abut so much lately.
I have definitely never thought of God's grace being 'sufficient'... I've always thought it was supposed to be abundant. Thank you for writing this.

Rebecca said...

@ Kristin: Thanks for your comment. I do think that God is an abundant God - he does give abundantly, and scripture talks about God unstintingly giving joy and strength. I think many of those things come with time, and with the additional power of the Holy Spirit. I think they're sort of in a different category than the type of grace he gives all his believers who go through difficult times. I think that he somehow enables all his children to have the strength to make it through whatever may befall them, but I think living the abundant life is sort of in a different category, it's on a different time schedule and sort of involves more of our participation. I think. I'm still processing this.

AGohl said...

I just want to thank you again for this post. It was an encouragement and a reminder that I very much needed and need. I keep on coming back to this post and re-reading it because it perfectly describes part of what the Lord is trying to teach me right now.

I think sometimes that if the Lord just poured all the grace we needed over us all at once, the human beings that we are, would take it and run with it (at least I know that would very likely be my own human nature tendency).... it is the relying on that daily outpouring of grace that keeps us coming back to the Lord each and every day for a refilling that deepens our relationship with Him and keeps us focused on the real source of our strength.