Sustaining Grace

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. --  II Corinthians 12:9

The name Charles Haddon Spurgeon is often invoked by those in theministry with a sense of awe and admiration, and with good reason. He was one of the greatest preachers to live since the Reformation. He was a giant.

However, because of this reputation as a preacher, many people assume Spurgeon must have experienced great peace, contentment, and prosperity. Spurgeon's preaching clearly had the anointing of God, so surely his personal walk with God must have been one of fulfillment and satisfaction.

The reality, however, was vastly different. Spurgeon lived much of his ministry years in the dark tunnel of depression. Richard Day, one of his biographers, wrote, "There was one aspect of Spurgeon's life, glossed over by most of his biographers, that we must now view with utter frankness: he was frequently in the grip of terrific depression." In addition, he was often ill, spending weeks at a time in bed--so many, that he told theleaders of his church they ought to replace him. He also frequently worried over his personal financial situation.

Spurgeon, like the rest of us, was very human. He had his doubts, anxieties, and struggles with emotion. Seemingly, he wrestled mightily with the tension between being righteous and being human. I'm sure he thought on occasion, "How can a child of God be so human and flawed and be acceptable before God, not to mention used by Him?"  The answer is found in the word Grace. The same grace that saved us is also that which sustains us each day, making us recipients of His love and favor.

Christians have always struggled with grace. It's far easier for us to accept the reality that a holy God hates our sin than it is for us to believe that He loves and accepts flawed individuals such as ourselves, and in fact, even chooses to use such imperfect instruments. For some reason, we are reluctant to believe that the same love and forgiveness that we experience at salvation, is applicable to our daily lives in spite of our sins and imperfections.

However, that is the reality. Just as we don't do anything to earn God's favor at salvation, neither do we earn His favor during the Christian life. In fact, we are more often loved and accepted in spite of our lives than because of them--all because of His sustaining grace.

If you live today with emotions similar to Spurgeon's, release yourself from the dark stable of perfectionism, self-punishment, and guilt, and drink from the trough of God's sustaining grace. There is nothing so freeing and comforting!