Does Grace Protect You?
The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Recently I met one of my writing heroes, sports journalist Rick Reilly. He was autographing books at a local store and by the time I reached him I was the last in line. So when I mentioned that I sometimes quote his columns in my sermons he had the time to seem intrigued (or at least polite!) and said he had a few questions for me about Christianity.
He told me how he had interviewed football superstar Isaac Bruce shortly after Bruce had survived a horrific car crash. Police at the scene said they’d never seen a sports car crushed like his, yet Bruce walked away without a scratch. But here’s what upset Reilly: According to him, the athlete had attributed his survival to “calling on the name of the Lord” during the accident and went on to state unilaterally that if anyone claimed the name of Christ they would also be protected from harm.
Reilly looked at me and asked, “So do you think that if people pray to Jesus they’re protected?” How would you answer that question? What does the Bible teach?
The first part of my answer: No.
God’s saving grace does not mean nothing bad will ever happen to you. I’ve seen so many Christians believe this lie, and have their faith dashed. God’s grace means He will redeem every hurt. Like the song says, He leads through the dangers, toils and snares, not around them.
After all, you follow a Savior who Himself was not protected from all injury. The very symbol of your faith, the cross, reminds you that Jesus — and many of His followers for the past twenty centuries — experienced painful death. But it also reminds you that God transformed the cross into a symbol of hope and triumph.
We are sometimes granted healing grace that takes away our pain; but we are always granted sustaining grace that strengthens us in our pain.
So, no, faith is not a guarantee you won’t be harmed. As you’ll read tomorrow, Paul said he begged God to take away his suffering, but God’s answer was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Grace guarantees God will work for good in every one of your sorrows. It doesn’t guarantee there will be no sorrow.
However the second part of my answer is: Yes.
Ultimately, yes, God’s grace does protect from lasting harm. Grace guarantees that He will work all things out to His glory, and “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” (Revelation 21:4) The pain now is a burst of static compared to the infinite celebration-song that awaits you. And God’s grace is a promise you’ll be there for the celebration!
Grace, in other words, will lead you home. As Peter promises:
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10
In what area of your life do you sense that, for right now anyway, God is saying “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness”?
How in the world would it bring God more glory to work through some of your pain instead of simply eliminating all your pain?
How has God worked through weakness and pain in your life, both for your good and for others?
Thank God that He redeems the pain to bring good out of it. Thank Him for at least one specific way He has done that in your life. Then bring to Him any situation causing you pain now, and ask Him to either remove it or work through it to bring Him glory. Then rest in His grace, knowing He will answer in the best way.