I remember sitting in my friend’s living room as I watched her family pick up the pieces of their lives. Their patriarch, gone. A husband, a father, a friend. A tragedy, but nonetheless, one that was God ordained. And in the aftermath, we watched a widow raise her hand in praise at a funeral. We watched a family hold their heads high and point to their maker. They loved each other well, they held onto grace as if their lives depended on it. They spoke words of hope, of truth, and of grace over all of us.
They grieved well… And we stood by and watched with wonder.
It was something I heard a lot in the aftermath of losing such a great man, “I don’t know how they do it. I would just be crushed, I would never survive.” Hurtful words I’ve spoken with friends regarding a multitude of others’ tragedies.
A lost child.
A car accident.
A lost job.
Grief. Unbelievable pain. Despair. Dark clouds that come and hover over our lives that make us wonder if we’ll ever see the sun again. And then, we watch people walk through those rainy seasons and we wonder how they survived. How did they come out and appear to be walking strong, sometimes with a limp, but still moving forward.
And we marvel.
We marvel at the widow who rests in her heavenly Father. The mother who grieves the loss of a child, and still clings to her faith. The man who loses his job but still gives generously of himself to the church and others. The cancer patient who believes that God’s glory is more important than any earthly thing, even their health. The person wrestling with depression who raises a hand of praise at church. The wife who forgives an unfaithful husband. The abuse victim who forgives their oppressor.
We sit back, watch these stories unfold, and we marvel.
And satan whispers in the darkness, you would never survive something like that. You would crumble. I would kill you.
And we believe him.
So when we hear of these dark clouds, we say something silly like, “I would never survive if ______________.” And just like that, we belittle the work of the cross on our behalf. With one little statement we show that we believe the work of the cross is great for salvation, and for redeeming our world, but it isn’t sufficient enough for our own trials, however large or small they may be.
And yet, God says otherwise.
2 Corinthians 12: 8-9 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
Do you see what He did there? Because HIS grace is sufficient, our weaknesses, our flaws, our mess… it can all be used for His good. Because His grace is sufficient, Christ’s power rest on us in seasons of weakness.
Because of Grace, a widow can rest.
Because of Grace, the depressed can raise their hands in worship.
Because of Grace, the offended can forgive.
Because of Grace, the cancer patient can smile.
Because of Grace, the barren woman can sing.
Because of Grace, we ALL can grieve well as people who have hope.
Oh believer, we serve a God who makes beauty from ashes, and his secret ingredient is Grace. For those of you wrestling with dark skies, cling to grace. Memorize 2 Cor. 12: 8-9. Read Isaiah 61: 1-3 and cling to the truth that He makes beauty from ashes and can turn mourning into praise. He is a good and mighty stronghold, but He is also kind and full of grace. For those of you who are under blue skies and gorgeous sun rays, trust that when rain clouds come and a storm rolls in, He will sustain you. His grace will abound and His glory will be shown.
Elisabeth Elliot once said that there is no grace for our imagination. And I agree with her, but thankfully God’s grace is strong enough to give hope to the realities of our darkest hours this side of glory.