God’s sustaining grace is always with us. When things are going well, it’s there, and when things are going bad it’s there. God is good all the time! All the time, God is good. But sometimes it’s hard to see God’s sustaining grace at work when bad things happen. When someone dies before their time, when terrible things happen to innocent people, and when evil people hurt others, it’s often hard to find God’s sustaining grace at work during those times.

Salvation is by grace through faith. I’d argue that salvation is a term that fits both our life’s circumstances in the present as well as our eternal destiny. We are saved by grace through faith. It’s our faith that God puts to the test in order to make us stronger. That’s why he “tested” Abraham’s faith in Genesis 22, when he told him to offer his only son as a sacrifice on the altar. Abraham passed the test and his faith has been the example of what it means to trust God in all the trials of life. He had learned through his life that he could trust God’s word. God said he’d have a son in his old age and he did. God blessed him in numerous ways along life’s path and he learned through all the ups and downs of life that God had his best interest foremost in mind regardless of his circumstances or what God called him to do. He walked by faith. It was God’s grace that sustained him through it all.  But it not only sustained him. It made him stronger! Paul understood this principle well. He said in Philippians 4:13 that he could rejoice in God in every situation of life because he understood God’s promises.  Each beating, each imprisonment, each stoning and each persecution of every kind made Paul’s faith stronger.  But the important thing to notice is that Paul realized that this strengthening was a result of God’s grace. When Timothy was going through tough times in his ministry, Paul wrote to him and said, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).

Let me call to your attention the fact that the command “be strengthened” or in some translations it says “be strong” is a passive verb in the Greek text. Timothy is not the subject of the action, but the recipient of it. Our strength through trials and pains and sufferings comes not from our own effort, but from the reality of God’s grace at work in our lives. Bill Haynes put it this way, “Relying on God’s strength alone is something each of us must learn. The grace of God does not merely save us (although it does do that), it also continues to sustain us. It empowers our lives, and gives us the ability to stand firm.” As Paul learned, through every thorn in the flesh and hardship of life, “God’s grace will prove sufficient.” Paul and other New Testament writers love to include in their salutation or benediction “grace to you” in various forms. Notice also that the Bible itself ends with Revelation 22:21. It says “The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen!”