There are still many moments in my life when I feel alone.
Some of these moments are when ‘nerve attacks’ arising from my spinal injury hit me intensely and last for days. They feel like random electric current spasming from my spine to my toes. Many times I just lie in bed and try to sleep it off. When it becomes unbearable, I must confess I wish my life would end.
Many tell me that by Jesus’ stripes, I should be healed. They pray for me in earnest, yet nothing happens. Some share how God has told them specifically I would be healed. They too lay hands on me for healing but, once again, nothing happens. Others come to me saying I have not found healing because I have not received the grace to believe that God will do what he has said in the Scriptures. Perhaps I haven’t been waiting enough for this grace, they feel. But I have, and am still waiting for complete and total healing for over thirty years.
I have been told that God wishes us to prosper at all times and that He has given us the grace to do just that in Christ Jesus.Yet, in my years as a lawyer, I have gone through three years when my practice suffered heavy losses. I have also lost much in investments and ventures that I have entered into to generate income to plough back into worthwhile ventures for God but many ended in substantial financial losses.
Throughout these years, I have been encouraged by well-meaning souls to hold on to verses of Scripture that emphasize God’s overflowing grace and favour, especially: “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness”, “I have come to give you life; life in all abundance”, “Of his fullness we all receive and grace upon grace.”
These souls spur me to hang on for the day God fulfills his word. For me, and for many others facing hardship or pain, that day still hasn’t come. And it gets a little bit harder to believe that it was God’s word that was spoken.
Where is God and His grace in all of this? I wonder. What is He working out in my life?
Then I remember.
God is always with me in the full humanity of Jesus. Jesus bears my pain as his pain, feeling my loss as his own. Having felt forsaken at the cross, he identifies with my feelings of being forsaken too. The “man of sorrows, acquainted with afflictions”, takes my pain and afflictions as his.
Every hardship in my life, each moment of pain and everything I have lost, is all part of growing in my relationship with God. In these moments, I have the privilege to experience an authentic intimate response by God through Spirit's fruit that uphold and transforms me. I may not be able to change my situation or circumstance, but, I can allow change to happen to me through the enabling Presence and communion of Holy Spirit - to exercise my most fundamental freedom, choice, to respond rightly to God and all around me.
Only thus, can God’s work of perfecting me into Jesus and through Jesus into His Triune Life, bear fruit for Him.
This is God’s grace - God in Jesus, his only begotten Son, through His Spirit ever willing to participate and be with me just as I am, where I am. I only need to recognise and embrace Him for Who He Is and allow Him to bless me where I am, just as I am. How amazing this grace is!
More than material blessing or something to be appropriated into my life, God’s grace towards me is a new love relationship with Him found in the person of Christ Jesus - the “grace anti grace” of John’s gospel, not “grace upon grace” as in most translations.
This love relationship is like a Christian marriage. In Jesus, God and I take each other for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, as long as we both shall live.
Jesus calls us to remember him and the depth of his love, especially in the depths of our sadness, loneliness and despair. The celebration of Holy Communion causes me to remember Jesus and know that he is with me, right here and right now.
God’s grace is alive not only when he does something for us. His grace is real because he is with us, with you, with me, right now.
Partaking of the Jesus’ body broken for me, and Jesus’s blood shed for my salvation, I remember who He is and why I am still here and allow Him to remember me and be here with and for me.
May all be well with you and your soul.