Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Answer Is Always Enough

We often hope to be spared trouble or suffering, and surely it is legitimate to pray that we may be ("Lead us not into temptation" is a prayer Jesus taught us to pray). Jesus Himself asked the Father to take away the "cup"; Paul prayed for the removal of his "thorn." In both cases, the answer was no. But God did not give a mere no--He sent what had not been asked: strength to endure. An angel was immediately dispatched to Gethsemane, "bringing him strength" (Lk 22:43 NEB). His suffering did not cease--in fact, "in anguish of spirit He prayed the more urgently and his sweat was like clots of blood" {Lk 22:44).

The apostle was suffering in some physical way, it seems. The thing was called "a messenger of Satan," and he did well to ask for its removal. The answer was no--but something unasked was given: grace. There was plenteous grace to enable Paul to endure. What God gives in answer to our prayers will always be the thing we most urgently need, and it will always be sufficient.

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