Thursday, March 17, 2016

Surprised by Grace

Dear Friends,

If we look closely at Job’s story, we recognize that Job did not discover significant aspects of God’s character until the blessings were withheld.  Before Job went through his trials, he knew God as a God of power, wisdom, and justice.  Until he suffered, he did not know Him as a God of loving grace.  Job talks about God’s “whisper” (Job 26:14).  It is these still, small whispers of comfort in the ears of our souls that explain why it is necessary perhaps to spend some time out of our comfort zone.  How would we ever know God to be adequate if we had never been inadequate?  How would we ever have our tears wiped away if we had never cried?  Job was well aware that the honor and success that had been his were gifts of grace.  He had been able to hold his material wealth lightly and not tightly.  As David McKenna suggests in Whispers of His Grace, “Being right with God should help us in doing right with things, so we don’t suffer from affluenza!”

Job did not waste needless energy asking why these terrible things should have happened to him.  He immediately began to look for hope and light—without the answers.  This mind-set helped him to put the little strength he had left into seeking to be a distinctive believer in the midst of his suffering.  He was well aware that others were watching him closely.  This is always the case.

I remember when I was a new Christian taking note of how people coped with trouble.  The people I knew who claimed to belong to Christ—who were committed Christians—responded differently from those who made no profession of faith at all.  This was not lost on me.  There was a man I knew who worked in a factory, a workplace in which there was a strong atheistic element.  Even though this man tried to speak about his faith, no one would listen.  We knew the family through business and were aware that he and his wife had been trying to have a baby for years.  One day the man’s wife got pregnant.  They were both ecstatic.  The man shared his good news with his workmates, who showed little interest.  They showed considerable interest, however, when the child was born with a severe handicap.  “That’s funny,” commented the hard-bitten union chief.  “We don’t believe in a god, and our kids are healthy!  What sort of a god would give you a handicapped child?”

“What did you say?” I asked our friend, aghast at such a comment.

“I just said, ‘I’m so very glad God gave her to us and not to you.’”

I was amazed, and even though a new believer, I took note of the distinctive way God enables His children to handle pain and testify of God’s grace in it.  There is no doubt in my mind that even though our friend’s workmates would rather die than admit it, they, too, must have been impressed!

Nobody knows what is around the corner of tomorrow.  But one thing we can know: God will be waiting there for us. He is a God of comfort, a God well acquainted with grief and suffering.  A God who knows what it is to have the forces of hell do their worst.  Because God inhabits our future, He is never surprised by the magnitude of the troubles waiting for us. 


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

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