Thursday, May 7, 2009

He Giveth More Grace

Annie Flint accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior at an early age. And whether by nature or through her Christian upbringing, she was generally cheerful, optimistic, had a generous nature, and was always ready to share what she had with others. Annie was also courageous. In fact, when she was a toddler and just learning to walk, she would march across the room with her head up regardless of any obstacle in the way. Annie exhibited this same courage later in her life when she was hemmed in by so many trials. She certainly learned to "endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Tim 2:3).

But Annie was also very human. As a child she had a very quick temper which flared up on slightest provocation, but just as quickly died down. She never claimed entire freedom from this tendency, but she did learn the secret of grace in overcoming it.

Another characteristic was her acute sensitiveness, which made her keenly aware of the needs AND the wrongs of others. In a word, her likes and dislikes were very intense. She readily admitted that if she was accused of something she had not done, she would sulk far longer than her temper lasted. And she would never speak to anyone while in these moods or even try to explain any mistake that might have been made.

But her greatest fault of all, she admitted, was a lack of patience, with herself and others. She did not like to wait for anything. She wanted to see results immediately. But she was also very persistent and refused to give up anything until it was finished. This did help her to accomplish many hard and distasteful tasks, but all through her life the hardest lesson she had to learn was patience.

Annie's life was far from easy. Her own parents had been taken from her in childhood, her foster parents both passed away, and her one sister was very frail and struggling. And then, she herself, was told she would be a helpless invalid for a good portion of her life. She had to completely depend on others for her care.

Annie had many friends who were sincerely interested in her welfare. However, there came times when some would criticize and even challenge her faith. These friends strongly believed that healing of the body was for every child of God in this life. They claimed healing was purchased for us by Christ, and that everyone who walked obediently could claim deliverance from physical infirmities and bodily sicknesses. She listened to what they had to say. But more than that, she went earnestly and prayerfully to search the Scriptures as to God's will. It was only after a most painstaking study and prayer, and reading of the best writers on this subject that she reached the conclusion that, while God can and does heal in this way in some cases, in others He does not. She also saw that many of those who pressed their theory were themselves infirmed, and while telling others that they should claim healing, their own lives showed the failure of their theory.

Annie became thoroughly convinced that God intended to glorify Himself through her. And when she, like Paul, had prayed three time (and more) that this might be taken from her, she reached the place where she could also say with Paul,

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:9-10).

Annie endured much suffering as her disease worsened with each passing year, and as new complications developed. But through it all, her faith in the goodness and mercy of God never wavered. For more than forty years, she experienced pain as her joints became more and more rigid. And although she was able to turn her head, it was in great pain that she was able to write these amazing lyrics down on paper:

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials he multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

(Annie Johnson Flint, 1866-1932)

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