April 09, 2013

Living under God’s sustaining grace

What Is Sustaining Grace?

Not grace to bar what is not bliss
Nor flight from all distress but this
The grace that orders our trouble and pain
And then in the darkness is there to sustain

—John Piper

Have you ever wondered why a loving God would allow you to walk through deep waters? Do you have trouble knowing what to say to a fellow believer who is going through difficult times? Do you sometimes want to ask God why he allows such pain in your life?

I have wondered these very things many times. I know and trust and God is good. I accept that his purposes are right and just... and even good... for those who love him, those who he has called according to his purpose. But that doesn’t necessarily help me get through the difficult times. I guess the head-knowledge has not always made it all the way down to my heart.

John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is one of my personal heroes of the faith. He is an eloquent expounder of God’s word, but he is also very human, with human frailties that are easy for me to understand. John Piper has been through some tough times and he is not afraid to come out from behind the typical veil we place around ourselves to keep others from seeing what’s happening deep down inside.

Prayer for Spiritual Strength – Ephesians 3:-21

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

John Piper wrote the poem at the top left of this post as an introductory illustration to his outstanding sermon “Sustained by Sovereign Grace – Forever.” That poem and his accompanying sermon helped me tremendously when my son was removed from our house and placed in a residential treatment center at only nine years old. He remained in that treatment center until he was well into his 11th year—a full 18 months later. During that time I listened to this sermon over and over while commuting between my son’s location (Lynchburg, VA) and my office location 200 miles away (Washington, D.C.).

Sometimes I need to be reminded of the truth that when God leads us through dark waters, he is there to sustain us and to bring us out onto dry land on the other side.

Listen to “Sustained by Sovereign Grace – Forever

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