Life can be difficult. Between the constant temptations, weariness from daily responsibilities, and unexpected hardships, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and want to give up. But as Christians, we can turn to a powerful source of renewal and resilience: God’s sustaining grace.
In this article, we’ll explore how sustaining grace applies to three common struggles:
- Resisting temptation
- Battling exhaustion
- Enduring suffering
We’ll also look at three key truths about this amazing provision from God:
- It empowers our continual growth
- It guarantees our eternal security
- It comes from God’s unwavering delight in blessing us
Understanding and relying on sustaining grace is key to thriving as a Christian through every season of life.
What Does the Bible Say About Sustaining Grace?
The concept of sustaining grace permeates Scripture. As 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV) says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Through Christ, God has already supplied believers with supernatural strengths and resources that will carry them through any challenge.
Ephesians 3:16-17 describes this beautifully: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” By continually infusing spiritual power into His children, God enables us to walk steadfastly with Him through every hardship.
Sustaining grace allows Christians to confidently declare with the apostle Paul: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
As we’ll explore in more detail later on, this specific type of grace shields believers from temptations, renews them when weary, and uplifts them during suffering. This strength from God also keeps Christians progressing in spiritual maturity while guaranteeing their eternal security.
First, let’s look at how sustaining grace helps believers resist temptation.
Facing Temptation Through Sustaining Grace
Feeling tempted? You’re not alone. From lust to lies, outbursts of anger to bouts of anxiety, unhealthy habits try to entangle all of us. And repeated indulgence can easily lead to addiction and despair.
But no matter what temptations you face, God promises to provide a way out through sustaining grace, along with the strength to take it:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
By coming before God’s throne of grace in prayer (Hebrews 4:16), believers can receive tailored help and strength to resist or escape temptation.
For example, someone struggling with an addiction can cry out to God for grace to avoid triggers, fill free time with healthy activities, or talk to a trustworthy friend about their struggle. The Spirit then empowers them to take these grace-inspired actions.
Sustaining Grace and Joseph
An excellent biblical example of sustaining grace in the face of temptation is Joseph, a slave in Egypt who refused his master’s wife’s repeated attempts to seduce him. Despite being a young man likely struggling with natural desires, Joseph did not rely on his own willpower. Instead he depended on God to uphold him, explaining that sinning “would be a great wrong and sin against God” (Genesis 39:9 NRSV).
Through Joseph’s story we witness sustaining grace in action – divine power strengthening a follower of God to resist relentless temptation.
So next time you’re facing alluring temptation, remember to immediately pray for sustaining grace. God promises to provide strength tailored to your exact situation, along with showing you one or more ways out. By depending on Him rather than yourself, you can stand firm.
Now let’s explore how sustaining grace renews believers battling weariness from daily responsibilities.
Combatting Exhaustion Through Sustaining Grace
Responsibilities pile up, dreams fade, frustration mounts. Whether facing endless housework, repetitive tasks on the job, or even the noble challenge of ministry, Christians often grow exhausted.
Knowing this struggle intimately, the apostle Paul pleaded for God’s revitalizing help in ministry:
“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:12).
How does God impart energy and motivation to His worn out children? Through His sustaining grace!
The Holy Spirit Himself takes residence within believers’ hearts, providing supernatural strength to steadfastly keep going:
“God has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
By filling His followers with spiritual vigor, God enables them to walk in the good works He prepared for them (Ephesians 2:10). Believers can have confidence that God will infuse them with exactly the quantity and quality of energy that each new task requires. He’ll even tailor His provision to strengthen their specific weaknesses – as His power “is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Friends Sustaining Friends
A great example of sustaining grace charging tired believers comes from Exodus 17. Emerging triumphant from battle with the Amalekites, Moses kept his hands uplifted in prayer as Joshua led the Israelites to victory. But Moses grew extremely weary, to the point that he could no longer even hold up his hands.
So what happened? Aaron and Hur found a stone for Moses to sit on, then stood beside him and held his hands aloft for the remainder of the battle. This allowed Moses to physically rest while also continuing in prayer. As long as Moses reached out to God, he received strength far beyond his natural capacity.
We might not have Aaron and Hur to prop up our arms. But through faith, the Holy Spirit comes alongside believers in utter weariness. He infuses spiritual strength and motivation to fully accomplish God’s work.
Remember, just as God sustained Moses beyond reasonable human limits, He promises to invigorate you as well. So next time you’re overwhelmed with extreme fatigue, pray for sustaining grace. Expect renewed mental clarity, emotional stability, physical stamina and spiritual vigor to carry out your calling.
Now let’s explore how God’s sustaining grace lifts believers during times of suffering.
Overcoming Suffering Through Sustaining Grace
Whether mourning the loss of a loved one, undergoing slander at work, or receiving a devastating health diagnosis, suffering strikes everyone at some point. Christians are by no means exempt from experiencing deep pains.
But we do have an exclusive promise from God: Though weeping may last through the night, “joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5). This assurance echoes Jesus’ words to His disciples:
“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage – I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33)
Through adversity, sustaining grace remains Christians’ constant companion. God does not necessarily remove the affliction itself. Rather, He provides overflowing comfort, peace and strength through His continual presence:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.” (Isaiah 43:2)
Sustaining Through Persecution
We witness God’s marvelous sustaining grace in action through the account of Stephen, Christianity’s first martyr. Despite facing angry executioners ready to stone him, Stephen radiated tranquility:
“Filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’” (Acts 7:55-56).
This passage illustrates how sustaining grace fills suffering Christians with God’s magnificent presence. Alongside the promised Holy Spirit, Jesus Himself draws near to uplift all lowly followers during affliction.
Remember that no matter how deep the valley, you never walk alone as a Christian. Call upon the Lord and He shall sustain you through hardships with indescribable peace, comfort and spiritual power.
As we have explored, God promises tailor-made sustaining grace to help Christians resist temptation, push past weariness and overcome suffering. But how does this differ from natural human perseverance? And can someone lose salvation even after receiving saving grace?
Let’s look at the eternal security and sanctification that sustaining grace guarantees.
Guaranteed Security and Growth Through Sustaining Grace
Besides empowering endurance through hardships, sustaining grace provides two additional gifts: preservation of believers’ salvation and stimulation of their ever-increasing Christ-likeness.
Sustaining grace locks in the eternal security of Christians, keeping them safely in faith until arriving in heaven. As God declares through the prophet Jeremiah:
“I will make an everlasting covenant… I will not turn away from doing good to them, and I will put the fear of me in their hearts so that they will never turn away from me.” (32:40)
Here God vows never to rescind His offer of relationship. But even better, He promises to complete each believer’s salvation by perpetually strengthening their faith.
Through sustaining grace, God overcomes believers’ proneness to wander from Him. He stimulates love, fosters obedience and compels the fulfillment of good works that He prearranged for His children (Ephesians 2:10).
Sustaining Grace for Salvation
Salvation thus depends fully on God rather than humans. Believers can rest secure that the Holy Spirit will continually revive their hearts when they occasionally stumble. In fact temporary failures often allow the Spirit to manifest His glory all the more beautifully as God restores and sustains. True believers will always return to righteous living through the Spirit’s sustaining grace.
In addition to preserving salvation, sustaining grace stimulates Christian’s growth into greater Christ-likeness. God continually shapes believers more intricately into the likeness of Jesus, gradually making them into spectacular reflections of Himself:
“And we… are being transformed into his image with intensifying glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
This process of increasingly gaining victory over sin is called sanctification. Through sustaining grace, the Holy Spirit crafts holiness within receptive believers by revealing more sin for them to repent of and empowering them to live righteously.
Sanctification and the eternal security of salvation thus rely fully upon sustaining grace rather than self effort. Even spiritual growth occurs through dependence on the Spirit’s strength and joy rather than forced duty or guilt. As theologian Jerry Bridges explains, “God’s grace not only saves us through faith, but also sustains and preserves us in the way of holiness.”
So besides shielding from temptation and hardship, sustaining grace guarantees believers’ eternal salvation and stimulates their ever-deepening transformation into Christ’s image.
Next let’s look at the delightful reality that sustaining grace flows from God’s unwavering commitment to bless His children.
Sustained By God’s Delight
Christians gaining victory over temptation, pushing past exhaustion, or overcoming affliction rarely feels pleasurable in the moment. Serious trials can tempt believers to doubt whether God actually wants their good.
Yet Scripture proclaims that God takes sheer joy in showering blessings on His children, even through adversity:
“The Lord will take delight in you…He will rejoice over you with singing“ (Zephaniah 3:17).
In fact, sustaining grace originates in God’s sworn oath to continually work absolute good toward believers. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God avows this ecstatic commitment:
“I will rejoice in doing them good…with all my heart and soul” (32:41).
Lean In To God’s Sustaining Grace
The magnitude of God’s enthusiastic determination to bless far exceeds humanity’s wildest imagination. No force in the universe even remotely challenges God’s unlimited capacity to uphold His beloved children.
This unwavering zeal – all God’s infinite being delighting in doing good – dynamically empowers Christians to withstand and transcend every hardship. Rooted in joy, sustaining grace cannot run dry or reach its limits. It originates from infinite Source, who loves expanding believers’ capacity to receive more blessings.
What wonderful assurance for Christians today! Despite inevitable troubles, you have the all-powerful Sustainer. God actively protects, cheerfully comforts and vigorously equips you through every challenge. Even sufferings serve joyful purpose of increasingly uniting you with Him.
So next time turbulence hits, recall your ecstatic Benefactor. Then confidently pray for sustaining grace to uphold you with His infinite might and delight.