Grace for the Taking

bird on a log in the water at sunset

February 03, 2021
Kate Vanskike, Gonzaga Magazine Editor

The daily temperature averaged 115 and the “brownouts” happened daily, cutting off power to the one lone fan that moved the heavy air. The cockroaches that somehow made it into the mosquito net around my bed had nine lives (or more). I barely spoke enough Arabic to buy bread, and my French was severely lacking in conversational capacity. And then I fell deathly ill with malaria AND dysentery. To top it off, health care workers were striking and the hospital was closed.

If you didn’t know better, you could mistake this for one of those horrible stories about the year 2020.

But it was 1994 and this was my experience as a college student spending a summer in Chad, West Africa. I returned home 22 lbs. lighter and exhausted enough to sleep for a week straight.

I survived at least in part due to the healing words of an old hymn, “He Giveth More Grace,” which my mother mailed to me, typed out and framed in a black mat.

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added afflictions, He added His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.”

I wish I had remembered these words of comfort earlier in 2020 when the pressures of our odd pandemic-inflicted lives pushed our sanity to the limits. But the reality is that COVID won’t be gone as 2021 unfolds, and so we still have time to reflect on the rest of the song.

“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.”

May we continue to rely on our sources of hope – the people, practices, and higher powers – that give us the determination to keep on keeping on. Might we prevail over the illnesses that plague our communities – not just COVID but our divisive diseases of politics and injustice. And may we find ourselves with storehouses of mercy and peace to share with all.

- Kate Vanskike

“He Giveth More Grace” – public domain. Lyrics by Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1932)