“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4 ESV
Grace can be simply defined as being given what one doesn’t deserve, while mercy is defined as the withholding of what one does deserve. In other words–by God’s grace, we receive forgiveness for our sins; by God’s mercy, we don’t receive the wrath we deserve for our sins. In the shred culture, grace might be someone letting you cut them in line on a powder day and mercy might be a ski patroller letting you keep your pass when you duck a rope.
So often, we have this “warm and fuzzy” view of God’s grace. Phrases like “grow in grace,” or “grace upon grace” are printed on bookmarks, stickers, and various other things. When we hold this view as our only understanding of God’s grace, that is when bitterness and doubt set in–when life’s circumstances don’t seem “warm and fuzzy.” It leads to questioning God’s love, causing us to wonder how God could love us when our circumstances reflect the opposite of His love. Something my husband says a lot is this, “People always ask the question, ‘How is God a loving God when bad things happen to good people?’ My question is, how can people be forgiven if God is a just God?”
Whether your trial is losing your job, people gossiping about you, sickness, death, a speeding ticket – whatever it is, God is using it for His purpose. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” But, we can’t stop at verse 28 if we want to know “his purpose.” Verses 29 says this, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” To be like Christ, THAT is the purpose. What does it mean to be like Christ? It means to be slandered and to experience suffering. What happened after Christ suffered and died? He was glorified and went to be with His Father in Heaven. We too have that same hope. Your trials are God’s grace because they are making you more like Christ.
-What lies are you tempted to believe when you experience trials?
-Find a passage of Scripture to read when you are tempted to believe that lie.
-Seek Christian community in your suffering, ask others for prayer. Open up. Doubts arise when you aren’t in a Christian community.
By Eunice Jenkins | Lincoln, NH