The road is harder than you expected it to be and you’re struggling more than you think you should. People say you’re growing but somehow that doesn’t seem very comforting. It’s hard to see and feel God in these seasons, and fear and doubt creep closer than you like, vicious dogs snapping at your heels and making you wonder what the point of it all is.
I was introduced to this idea by Paul David Tripp in his devotional New Morning Mercies:
“Yes, your life is messy and hard, but that’s not a failure of the plan; it is the plan. It’s God working to complete what he’s begun in you. … We all need to teach and encourage each other with the theology of uncomfortable grace, because on this side of eternity, God’s grace often comes to us in uncomfortable forms. It may not be what you and I want, but it is precisely what we need. God is faithful; he will use the brokenness of the world that is your present address to complete the loving work of personal transformation that he has begun.”
We know that following Jesus requires sacrifice and suffering. That this is expected, not abnormal. Yet somehow— we all do it— when the trials come we look up in consternation and ask where is God?
How can we live in such a way that to suffer is expected? To change the entitled, comfort-driven mindset that we are bequeathed by our culture at birth to a mind that can see the hand of God in the adverse circumstances, transforming us ever more into the people He wants us to be?
Adverse circumstances are not all designed by God to bring about our transformation. Many are simply the result of a fallen world and the fact that, although God has the final victory, currently the king of the earth is a violent, sadistic, evil fallen being who loves nothing more than to wreak havoc and chaos to keep us all in confusion and distrustful of the God who made us. But the fact remains that God can use even the evil of this one for His glory. He can bring good from bad and beauty from ashes. The story isn’t over yet, and God will have the last word.
So this uncomfortable grace. Uncomfortable because it isn’t the warm and fluffy word we once thought it was, but a refining fire. It’s a grace that loves us too much to allow us to stay in shallow comfort and pulls us ever deeper. It’s a grace that whispers “I’m near; you are not alone” when the crap hits the fan again and again and you feel as if surely you can’t take much more. But so often we (I mean me) are more likely to doubt God’s goodness and character and faithfulness because it doesn’t make sense to our culturally-conditioned minds. Surely, if you love someone, don’t you protect them from harm? Not always. Not if it means growth and transformation and holiness. This is hard. So very very hard. God knows about letting his children suffer to bring about a greater glory and greater good than the one’s comfort. And oh don’t you see it dear heart? When you refuse to trust and stubbornly cry against the unfairness and injustice of it all instead of trusting the God who is holding it all… you’re letting the evil one have his way. You’re letting him separate you from the one who loves you endlessly.
I’m learning this, slowly by slowly. It’s hard. I’m not a quick learner. But oh the beauty of this grace that is not fluffy and comfy but messy and muddy and real… that meets us in the hurt and says— good will come out of this yet. Keep on trusting.
Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping in the time-tested and proven character of my loving and faithful Creator God, who knows the ins and outs of this story so much better than I do. The day to day waiting isn’t so pleasant, but it’s a process. And I’m learning to be okay with the messy in-between because He hasn’t failed me yet. So very thankful today for grace, in every form that He gives it.