Exceeding abundantly, but unseen

In one of those “one thought leads to another” progressions, a line in girltalk’s post this morning, “No Grace For Your Imagination,”  stood out to me: “But for today’s sufficient trouble there is God’s more-than-sufficient grace.” That reminded me of Ephesians 3:20: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” That, in turn, got me to thinking that we tend to associate “exceeding abundantly” as “big and dramatic,” but often the process of God’s working is barely perceptible. We also tend to associate it with material needs, and it can apply to those, but look at the prayer requests that proceeded this tribute to God:

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

This passage, along with Colossians 1:9-14 and Philippians 1:9-11, is one that I often pray for myself and my loved ones. The particular qualities mentioned are not only unseen and internal (though the results of them are seen), they’re also the kinds of things we don’t receive in a moment. They take time to grow and develop.So praying for them can often seem discouraging because we “don’t see anything happening.” Yet even in those, especially in those, we can trust God to work “exceeding abundantly.”

For years I had written Bible verses out at the bottom of my letters to my father. He never commented on them, so I just assumed he skipped over them, thinking, “There she goes again” while rolling his eyes. Yet he told the pastor who led him to the Lord that he had read them. My mother, as well, went from not wanting to hear about the things of the Lord to being very open to them at the end of her life. If I had asked her what caused the change or how it happened, she probably could not have told me. I’ve mentioned before a missionary who longed and prayed to be more loving, and turned from berating herself to instead meditating on God’s love for her, resulting in changes she wasn’t even aware of until people commented to her husband about the change in her. Many of us have experienced being given grace and strength for a trial that we didn’t “feel” so much at the time, but looking back, we wondered how we ever got through it and knew we could only have done so by God’s grace.

William Cowper says in his hymn, “God Moves in Mysterious Ways,”

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Even in the deepest recesses of hearts, we can trust Him to work “exceeding abundantly” to answer our requests and fulfill His will.


6 thoughts on “Exceeding abundantly, but unseen

  1. A wonderful reminder – the concept of “no grace for your imagination” was one of the biggest things I learned from my preeclampsia experience. In that case, all my worst fears came true – and God’s grace was there not for the fear and anxiety leading up to the actual events, but for the actual events. And His grace didn’t show up in crazy spectacular events, but in peace through the painful and difficult events – peace that I couldn’t have imagined.

  2. I love this post and have been pondering the idea that God is always working — whether we see it or not, even our own lifetime. Roomie has a cousin who trusted in Jesus when he came across an old letter his grandmother had written to him, encouraging him in the Lord with verses.

  3. Pingback: My favorite posts of the year | Stray Thoughts

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