“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9.8)
Have something unfortunate happen to you or some event arise which causes you anxiety and the sure repose you will receive from your Christian friends is a hearty, “God will provide.” This sounds good, but in a day of abundant Christian mythology, one must always check: Does the Bible really say this? The good news is, yes, indeed it does.
Now, let’s be careful how much we read into the text however. Here we are told, “God is able to make all grace abound to you . . . ” Able, not constrained or forced or committed. It may be the case that though he is able, for some reason or another he may not be willing. Take for instance what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12.7-9,
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
No where are we to assume that God was unable to do this thing Paul asked of him, it just so happened that God had a greater purpose in not doing it. This is God’s prerogative and we as finite thinkers contain no right to judge negatively should God in his sovereignty choose not to do anything.
Similarly, he is “able to make all grace abound to you.” What is ‘grace’? We don’t initially know. Grace may be material. It may be wealth or possessions. But it may also be favorable circumstances, fortuitous prohibitions, or any of another among a cadre of options. Again, God is not under compulsion to provide what we think is appropriate.
God never lacks the ability to provide anything, but his refusal to sometimes exercise that ability or to exercise it in a way other than we expect is part of what it means for God to be sovereign.