God’s Painful Grace

There was a time when I believed God’s grace to be something that was always comforting, always miraculous, always a blissfully joyful thing to experience. And it IS all of those things, but not always. Yes, God’s grace has brought me to thankful tears. God’s grace has brought relief and happiness to my heart. God’s grace has overwhelmed me as a loving force that cannot quite be put into words, where I’ve simply felt waves of love washing over me.

But, recently, as I have reflected on some very pivotal moments in my life, I’ve come to also notice a pattern of what I’ll call “painful grace”. This often comes in the form of shattered dreams, a broken heart, a lost job and the like. And it’s not until you’ve come completely out of the situation and (significant) time has passed, and the heart is open for lessons to be gleaned from the experience, that you realize that it was God’s grace at work in those difficult moments also.

At the time, we can rarely see it as grace, because we’re in the throes of pain and disappointment. We’re grieving, lamenting, mourning. It’s difficult to see clearly when we’re in the middle of grappling with the “why” and “how” of our agonizing experiences. But, in hindsight, we can see God’s hand of grace in those very situations.

Later, after the fact, we see that God’s grace in our losing that job was that He was moving us out of our comfort zone, or perhaps removing us from a place with no growth opportunity, or maybe removing us from a toxic work environment so that we could move onto the next opportunity that He had for us. If we’d not have been ‘moved’ from that position, we might have remained in a place of stagnancy and/or missed out on the next chapter God had for us for career growth and change.

After the fact, we see that God’s grace in that failed relationship was Him moving us out of an unhealthy situation, or saving us from a lifetime commitment with a toxic person, or saving us from a situation were we’d have been ill-matched or not truly valued.  However, by His grace, He ‘moved’ us out of that situation so that we could be free to move into a place of self-growth and healing, and/or into a place of preparation for a better future relationship.

After the fact, we can see that God’s grace in that failed business or shattered dream was Him repositioning us. He was re-routing us to an even greater purpose and more fulfilling dream. That ‘failure’ caused us to rethink life, upgrade our perspective, and brainstorm a new, more innovative plan or idea than we would’ve thought of if we’d have not experienced that failure. I once heard Bishop TD Jakes saying something to the effect of – ‘what if our failures are really our gateways to the next phase of our purpose?!’ [paraphrased]

Ohhh, God’s painful grace! We do not readily embrace it. We fight it. We even hate it, because at the time it does not seem like grace… It only feels like pain. But, if our hand is in God’s hand, shouldn’t we trust Him to lead us through this process? To refine us? To grow us? Even if at times His grace is painful?

©2019 Life Together with Kay Dee, “God’s Painful Grace”

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