Passage: Psalm 84:10-12
“For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” V.11 (NLT)
I was gently pressing Vitamin E oil over the bright-red scar on my abdomen. It extended for about 5 inches and it was painful. It hurt to move, to sit down and stand up, to turn around in bed and to take a deep breath. My surgery had only been ten days before and this was the first time I saw the incision. Vanity chimed in and I frowned at the sight.
My daughters sneaked in behind me as I bathed the scar in oil. Their eyes got big when they saw the surgery site. “Wow, mom. It’s sooooo big!” said the oldest in awe. “Does it hurt?” asked the baby. I looked at them and nodded. “Yes, sweetie, it’s big and it hurts.” “I’m sorry, mom” were the next words from my sympathizing daughters. And that’s when I heard the Spirit whisper within my soul. I turned around and signaled them to get closer. “You don’t have to be sorry, dear. I actually like my scar. I even gave it a name.” “A name?,” little one said. “What is it, what is it?”, she urged with growing curiosity. “Its name is Grace,” I said. “For if I did not have this scar, it would mean that the cancer would still be inside me. It was God’s Grace that allowed the doctors to find it while it was still small. So now we have Grace to remind us of how good God is to our family.” They both smiled as they looked up at me. Big sister was the first one to say: “Hi, Grace!” Little one echoed big sister’s greeting. They turned around, skipping out of the room, happy to go back to whatever fun game they were playing.
The word is found 206 times in the King James translation of the Bible; 150 of which are in the New Testament. It has become one of the most popular subjects among Christian writers worldwide. In the New Testament, grace is the Greek term charis, and like our English word, it may mean “graciousness” “attractiveness” or even “charm.” But as we consider the theological meaning of the word in the New Testament, it refers to the free, unmerited favor of God; to the favor or kindness given to those who can never deserve it or earn it by anything they do or refrain from doing. As Charles Swindoll puts it in his book The Grace Awakening, “Every time the thought of grace appears, there is the idea of its being undeserved. In no way is the recipient getting what he or she deserves. Favor is being extended simply out of the goodness of the heart of the giver.”
Grace is in the center of the gospel of salvation. The unmerited gift that was poured down at the cross to mankind is the greatest demonstration of grace ever given: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners,Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (emphasis mine.) But grace does not end with salvation. The “graciousness” of God is renewed every day towards His children. Truth being said, we live on grace. We may not always see it, but we know that God is in perfect control over our destiny and orchestrates all affairs to work together for our good and His glory. His grace accomplishes that.
Grace Does not Always Look Good
As I look into my past, I realize that God’s grace has often been hidden in situations that did not necessarily look or feel good. The pain and suffering of a betrayal that crushed my heart hid the wonderful grace of God, which spared me from marrying someone who was not His best for me. Because of His grace, albeit disguised in suffering, I married the man He had chosen for me from the beginning of time. He gave me grace and at that time, I did not know it.
The day I found out I had kidney cancer was a painful one to me. I hurt terribly and ended up in the emergency room. Before I resigned to the fact that I needed to go, I remember praying: “Lord, please take this pain away!” and again “Lord, please heal me. I don’t want to have to go to the emergency room.” I cried out to Him, curled up on my bed and waiting for His healing to take place. I quoted scripture. I prayed. And as I waited, in faith, for the pain to go away, it only got worse. As I gave in and asked my husband to take me to the hospital, I remember getting really upset. “I don’t need another medical bill,” I cried. “I can’t miss work!” And all along, I envision God looking down from Heaven and pouring down buckets of grace over my increasingly upset self. I arrived at the hospital and found out through the scan that I had an ovarian cyst that had burst. And… a…. tumor. An asymptomatic cancerous tumor, which would not have been found, had the Lord heard my cry and relieved the pain I had. He was giving me Grace and at that time, I did not know it.
So What is your Grace Scar?
I know you have one. Or two. Or twenty. If you are a child of God, He has called you to be perfected into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). In order to do that, we will need to be polished. And sanded. And there are some things that just absolutely need to come off. Completely. He envisions what He has created us to be and will do whatever it takes to perfect us. That is, if we let Him, because we do have the option to throw in the towel and quit. But if we don’t, and I pray that we never will, we must tell our souls that often our trials are God’s grace disguised. In the process of sanding, molding and perfecting us, He is lavishly pouring it over our lives. It may not always look or feel like Grace, but we must trust that it is. For we KNOW that it is (Romans 8:28).
Even today, as I write these words, the Lord has been working in my life in ways that are bringing change and pain. Again, this is not what I had planned. I am still in “God’s waiting room,” as a sweet friend once put it. But because I can look back and see His love and grace upon my life, even when it did not feel that way, I am teaching my soul to look back, remember and trust. I don’t like the pain and I won’t lie to you: because I have a tendency to “make it happen” and “do something about it”, I have my moments when I get restless in God’s waiting room. But as our key verse reminds me, my only job is to rest upon Him and not fight His ways. His face is upon me. He is holding my hand. He is molding me and changing me. For “my God is my sun and my shield. He gives me grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.”
“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 (NASB)
Amen to that.