One of the most beloved hymns of all times is "Amazing Grace." Grace is amazing but as awesome as it is, it is not enough to effectively meet every need. And there is also the matter of whether or not grace is dispensed fairly as implied in these questions: "Why did that hurricane destroy the home and life of my neighbor next door and not my home or life? Was it grace that saved me? Was it the absence of grace that allowed my neighbor to perish? These are legitimate questions for a person to ask.
But it appears that however hard a person seeks answers to these questions, he is left, at best, with rationalization which does not answer these questions. When faced with reality he can only say "Grace, although sufficient in some situtations and at some times, it is not enough in every situation and at all times." This raises another question, "Why?" Seeking an answer to this question forces a person to consider not only grace but also justice, mercy and favor. If grace is seen as "unmerited love" as some have supposed, justice as fairnesss, mercy as trumping justice for the sake of goodness, and favor as special advantage, some light is placed on the "Why of grace?" that not only highlights the ungracefulness and unfairness of grace but the insufficiency of grace, except where it is sufficent. One cannot argue the fact that frequently grace is sufficient, that it sometimes accounts for extraordinary feats and incredible miracles. This is not to say that ordinany occurrences are not the result of grace.
Even sometimes when grace is sufficient it only provides an opportunity for some accomplishment that requires the action of a person or persons to bring it into full fruition. At other times grace fully accomplishes some objective such as causing a person to survive a wilderness experience who was trapped for twice as long as anyone had ever been known to survive a similar ordeal. On the other hand grace spared a person in a burning house who only escaped because a fireman later rescued him from that fire. Of course, there was another person with a child in his arms who was saved by a fireman but the child did not survive.
In the face of reality can we admit and accept that at times grace is not enough or must we dogmatically declare that grace is enough even in the face of what appears to be the obvious failing or inadequacy of grace? This is my take: grace is not enough but it show helps a lot. Yet, there are times when it does not help? There is a way to live with the sufficiency of grace without being hypocritical or in self-denial. It is found in one of Fenelon's reflections in which he writes:
What wilt thou have me to do" I am
ready to do everything and to do
nothing, to desire nothing and to
desire everything, to suffer without
consolation, and to take comfort
in the sweetest consolations. I do
not say to thee, 'O God I will perform
the most difficult acts of self-denial,
I will make striking changes in my
conduct.' It is not for me to decide
what I will do. What I will do is to
listen to thee, and to await the
dictates of thy Law."
When a person fully surrenders and makes a commitment to God as described in Fenelon's declaration grace is sufficient. This does not mean, however, that triumph rather than tragedy, will be a person's experience, certainly not in every situation. The opposite may be true , but if that is so, as Fenelon says, "to suffer without consolation" even then grace is sufficient.
And for most human beings who fall short of making the commitment described by Fenelon, grace will not be enough but, to repeat, it will sure help a lot. When grace is not enough let your faith add to grace feet, hands, voice, patience, silence, prayer, meditation, surrender, and whatever else is needed to be enough with the awareness that, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28)
Witnesses from the ages affirm these words of the "Amazing Grace" hymn which correctly declares; "Tis' grace that brought me safe this far, and grace will lead me home," Grace is preeminent.
Copyright 2012 by Uriah J. Fields