These words of Jesus to Paul are often quoted for the benefit of those who are struggling mightily in some way with physical or mental suffering. For Paul, this message came to him after begging the Lord thrice to halt the beatings that were being inflicted on him by the devil (2 Cor 12:7-10). Now, it is not many of us who have to endure this sort of treatment, but everyone can certainly relate to those times when troubles weigh him down so severely that it seems there is no way out.
It is certainly true that we can overcome anything with the free gift of God’s grace. But, if we are feeling as Paul did, we might ask ourselves: Are we as open to this gift as we ought to be? Do we take advantage of the ordinary means of grace freely available to us daily, namely Holy Communion and Confession (not that one would usually need to go to the latter daily, but it is likely available, even if by appointment, every day)? And when we do participate in these sacraments do we prepare well in advance and give thanks heartily afterward so as to make the most of the encounter?
An infinite amount of sanctifying grace is available in the sacraments. Our problem is that we are not infinitely open to this grace, due to sin and its effects. Thus, frequent recourse to Holy Communion and Confession, along with prayer, penance, and fasting, will help us to grow in holiness. And, in doing so, when difficulties arise, Jesus words to Paul (and to us) will not seem far-fetched, but rather will be realized as we tap into these gifts for succor and strength.
This is the six hundredth post on this blog. If even one person benefited from these musings, all praise and all thanks go to the Lord. And as I did in my very earliest post, I always welcome your comments, questions, and challenges. May God abundantly bless you and yours.