When Grace Strikes us

Every once in a while, we as humans find ourselves in a mess of our own making.

It is easy to cry out to God when one is in a situation caused by someone else, but when you have put yourself in a mess, it feels rather foolhardy to cry out, or even to cry.

In a split second, humans too often make decisions that forever alter the rest of their lives. How many of us have done that, and then said, “Geez. If I had only …” But by then it’s too late. Your mess is made; your life is changed.

Though we feel stupid (or at least I do) calling out to God at those moments, it is at those moments that we experience the merciful presence of God. God shows up while we are writhing in our agony angst. Paul Tillich says that it is at those times that grace shows up; specifically, he says, “grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we were estranged.” (from The Courage to Be, second edition, p. xxii).

It is in those moments that we are challenged to accept God’s acceptance of us. That’s a good thing and more: it’s a necessary thing because when we are in messes of our own making, we find it hard to accept ourselves. Moments of despair challenge us and encourage us to reach for and look for this God who accepts us in spite of our bad moves and bad decisions.

If we are unable to feel the grace of God strike us when we are down, we run the danger of turning away from God …who is ever turning toward us. Turning away from God is the worst thing we can do ever, but especially when we are in self-flagellation mode.  We beat ourselves up far worse than God ever has or ever will.

So, while I sit in this mess I have made, I am inclining my face and spirit toward God, and am comforted that God is inclining His/Her ear and spirit toward me. I am not alone. For the first time in three weeks, I am not shaking. I am beginning to eat. Grace, that which has struck me and has stayed with me through this valley, has commanded me to eat – not only food, but the drops of mercy which grace sends. I have found that I need grace to strengthen me.

Trouble …don’t last alway…the old spiritual says, and that is true.  In the midst of trouble there is always a lesson, a vital lesson that we needed to know.  I am not quite sure why some of us have to fall into dark valleys to get the lessons God wants for us, but the up side of down situations is that in the valley, God is there, with a fresh supply of grace.

That’s a real comforting …candid observation.


14 thoughts on “When Grace Strikes us

  1. God will make us listen to Him regardless of what we think we want. Keep listening, keep talking to Him. You will find out just what the next phase is going to be. Good piece Pastor.

  2. Thanks so much Dr. Smith for sharing this piece, truly it has blessed me. I heard someone say, “Being okay with the fact that sometimes there is no solution-at least not right now-can be a key to contentment,” Love you and you remain in my prayers!

  3. Wow now that is very powerful and very true, why? Grace is what has kept me and understanding salvation, speaking Gods word in all of my decisions, affairs and situations. Thank you Pastor for Gods truth!

    1. Thanks, Kenya. It’s tough for everyone right now. I am glad God is God and that God is good. Take good care.

  4. Someone got a memo that said, ‘The congregation does not care what the leader(s) go through.’ The author of that memo obviously did not know THIS congregation.
    THIS IS a congregation that many forgave before they knew what they were forgiving. A congregation made up of many members who forgive blindly and hold their position even after they see. A congregation that really does care what their leader(s) go through. I have to believe its because many of us see GOD IN YOU FIRST before we see you. That’s the kind of stuff a fiercely and wondrously made people, A BODY OF CHRIST, A BELOVED COMMUNITY will do.
    The reader of that memo should have looked a little higher, literally and figuratively. They should have checked out the sender. That’s okay, we all make mistakes. The memo sender was an oversight. It just proves what we already know. God goes before us, his word is true. The devil is a LIAR!

    Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,…………

    Grace and mercy, chapter 1.

  5. I don’t know if I’ve ever really experienced a feeling of a moment or time when I knew his grace was covering me and protecting me, but I imagine it must be a powerful thing to experience. And I’m glad that it has covered you, and that you have kept your head up towards Him, even when the world around you kept trying to stomp it down.

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