The Pain of Grace
As Christians we talk a lot about grace. This grace is the power and love of God by which He saves and redeems us. This grace of Christ heals us, brings us to wholeness and restores hope in our lives. We are never the source of this healing grace, nor is it something we can earn. Grace is a gift from God alone, flowing from the Cross of the Son. It would seem logical that everyone would want this grace as it brings peace, healing and hope back into our lives and into our relationships with others. But why is it that so often we find ourselves fleeing from the grace of healing?
Sometimes we do not want this healing because there is often pain associated with it, and so we run. Grace itself is free, but it is never cheap. Grace was obtained through the death of Jesus on the cross, and for this grace to be effective, we must allow it to work in our lives, to have its way. Depending on the situation, grace sometimes has to act like a surgical scalpel used to make an incision so a doctor can see clearly the diseased areas inside the body in order to heal them. Similarly, it can be painful when grace penetrates us and allows us to see ourselves as we truly are—to see those places in us that are broken and in need of healing. But this sight, this self-knowledge, is a fruit of grace and a step towards healing. A scalpel can be used to cut away diseased tissue in order to return the body to health. At times, this too is the purpose of grace, to remove all that is hurting and poisoning our lives so that we may be restored and healed.
To become whole, to have relationships restored, we may have to face painful situations or things about ourselves from which we have been hiding, sometimes for years. Our pride, which has built up false images of ourselves and others, may have to be confronted. What we have done to others and to ourselves will have to be faced. The truth is that there is no shortcut in these cases and the way forward in the process of healing can be very painful. The mystery of grace is that it is by facing this pain that we will be led to wholeness and to peace. By seeing and acknowledging our situations for what they really are, by allowing ourselves to be confronted with the truth about ourselves, freedom can begin to flow.
Malachi 4:4 states that in the last days God will send Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers. That is, fractured family relationships can be healed. Hearts that have been hardened by sin and selfishness can be changed, but they first have to experience the pain of self-knowledge which the Holy Spirit gives to us. May we continually be open to God’s grace, even when it causes us pain. May we live this pain always looking to God and never letting go of Him so that the Lord can lead us through to the other side of healed relationships within our families and with ourselves.
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