It’s the processing period after the trial. My trial was a crisis of faith – by the end, nearly everything I believed was knocked down, and what wasn’t knocked down completely, I was barely hanging on to. I didn’t understand – still have trouble understanding why God would want my view of Him so utterly devastated. Yet, over the past few months, I’ve regained something of hope and desire for things I had stopped hoping for and desiring many years ago. Before my crisis, my heart was on some spiritual level shutting down, failing. So I begin to understand some of why God chose to step in the way He did.
This week I have been challenged and am wrestling with God’s grace in my trial. My youth group is learning five memory verses about grace this week, and for some reason, they are not sinking in.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
“And of His fullness have all we received, and grace upon grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17).
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having sufficiency in all things, might have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Do you notice a theme (besides grace) in these verses? Eternal life. Fullness. Grace upon grace. Riches. All grace. Sufficiency. Abundance.
This is what I wrestled with most in my faith crisis. Jesus says in John 10:10, “The Thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” I wrote in my journal last fall that I felt “spiritually raped, pillaged, and plundered.” I was dead inside, except for bouts of rage, directed at God for letting this happen to me. Because He kept asking me to call what I had an abundant life. To claim His goodness and grace in less than desirable situations far outside of my control.
I couldn’t do it.
These verses (which I picked, ironically) tell me that even then, especially then, God’s grace (His unmerited favor and strength to get through) was not only there, but there in abundance. Now, I cannot and do not deny God’s Sovereignty, His orchestration in my situation. But His favor? His strength? I was being chastised. Stripped of everything, including my beliefs about God. Greatly weakened, wounded. An abundance? Of what?
Here’s the thing: either God’s grace was available to me equal to my trial, or God is a liar. And I do not believe God can lie. So God’s grace was available to me equal to my trial.
This week, as I memorize verses about God’s grace in abundance, I wrestle again. Since God’s grace was there for abundant living, why was my life so diminished?
Perhaps because I was striving for what I wanted. For what I thought my life should look like. Perhaps I was trying to earn what I wanted, rather than let God give me what He wants. Perhaps God is trying to teach me about His grace for abundant life, and the best way is to get me to wrestle with it.
I don’t know.
Today, I am in a very different situation than I was four months ago. It is easy for me to look at this phase of my life and testify to God’s grace as He has restored my relationships with others, and has given me new freedom to hope and desire. I have something that I am waiting on God for, something I carry to Him daily in prayer. It gets difficult sometimes, but I find the conviction to persevere in prayer and be patient. The grace to go on, when I no longer feel like it.
Maybe I have stopped striving or am striving less. Maybe I have stopped trying to earn God’s favor along with everyone else’s. Maybe I am in a good place to learn what God has been trying to teach me about grace.
I don’t know.
I’ll keep you posted. 🙂