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And after you suffer for a short time, God, who gives all grace, will make everything right. He will make you strong and support you and keep you from falling. He called you to share in his glory in Christ, a glory that will continue forever. 1 Peter 5:10 (NCV)

I was at a conference on church leadership a few months back. The keynote speaker had just recently published a new book. In his presentation he told us about some of the struggles that he’d had between his college years and the present.

Then, he and his wife were living in a one room apartment in which they shared the kitchen and bathroom with their landlord. The basement ‘apartment’ smelled bad, they continually battled mold and rodents. It was cold and damp in the winter and cold and damp in the summer.

Now, he’s speaking around the world to executives of some of the most profitable companies in the world. While I have no idea what his financial situation is now, I’m quite sure he’s better off now than in the apartment days. At the end of his presentation he directed the over 200 of us to his table where there were several piles of books. He told us how much the book was and then made a statement that went something like this, “There’s a basket there by the books for the cost of the book. There are order forms in case you’d rather order it later. But if you don’t have the money today, take the book. If you can pay me later, thank you. If you can’t, I remember the ‘apartment days’ and how hard it was to make ends meet. Take the book as a gift from me to you. God Bless!”

With those closing words he left the stage. He’d given a wealth of good information in his presentation, but to me at least, the most powerful words he spoke were at the end because those were the words of grace.

Too many times in our lives we ask ‘Why?’ We do good things with a sincere heart. We pray earnestly and humbly for God to change relationships, improve our business, or heal the disease in a loved one. When he doesn’t respond as we hope we get angry, bitter, and resentful. “What good does it do to serve him when he does this stuff to me?” we say either to others, or inside ourselves.

Think for a moment of the words in 1 Peter 5:10. The “God who gives ALL grace…” Not just some grace. Not limited grace. Not conditional grace. Conditional grace isn’t grace at all because grace by its very nature is unconditional. Peter, the man who denied Jesus knew better than most. God’s grace is given so we might endure. Grace is ours so we can be strengthened, encouraged, lifted up and one day, rewarded. For now, our trials make us stronger so that we may make others stronger in their journey.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. Even though the trials I’m going through are difficult, I thank you for them because I trust you enough to know that these trials will make me stronger so I can strengthen my brother. Forgive me for my grumbling, my worry and my complaining for they are signs of a lack of trust. Empower me to live for you. Amen.

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