Sue’s Note: Earlier this year I wrote several blog posts about grace. The January 8th post was entitled, “Difficult Grace…” Today’s post includes excerpts from that entry as well as a section called, “The Rest of this Story.”
The medical report my family doctor gave me sent chills up my spine.
The research I set about to do on reputable Internet medical sites added to the foreboding.
The specialist I saw was very nice, very professional but also very straight about potential possibilities.
I tossed and turned through several sleep-deprived nights.
I determined I was going to dig in my heels of faith and trust God—no matter what the outcome of my medical condition might be.
I resolved to discuss the situation with no one but my husband—and, of course, God. I talked to God A LOT about it.
I poured out my fears.
I requested God give what I felt certain would be the best outcome.
I asked for strength to accept any outcome.
I searched the Bible for verses to bolster my faith.
I reminded God—as if God needs reminding—about what seemed to be biblical promises.
After almost three months of extensive—and expensive—testing, I re-visited the specialist.
The medical report he gave me resulted in a huge sigh of relief. There seemed to be nothing to worry about—at least for the present. “We’ll monitor the situation yearly,” the doc instructed with cautious optimism.
The doctor’s office was only a 10 minute drive from home. I was thanking God for His good grace when my ears perked up by something a radio minister was saying on the Christian station to which the car’s radio was tuned. I don’t know what program was on nor do I know who was speaking—I didn’t normally listen to that station—but the words I heard landed with tremendous impact.
“Sometimes God’s best grace is difficult grace,” the speaker said.
Difficult grace! Is that what I’d experienced for nearly three months? Yes, those months through which I’d traveled were difficult—really difficult! Yet, along the way, my chilled spine developed into stronger spiritual backbone. Instead of scrambling for pity from others—my typical go-to behavior—I was empowered to stand firm with only the support of my husband and my God. After an intense immersion in prayer and Scripture, I emerged a more faith-filled woman.
During that difficult time, I experienced:
Grace that distilled dread into determination.
Grace that taught me I can trust truly a truly trustworthy God.
Grace that fueled fear into faith.
Grace that subdued scary thoughts and sleepless nights.
To be perfectly honest, I prefer the kind of grace that paves a pleasant path. Yet, when I look back at this experience, I realize I learned valuable lessons.
- No matter how difficult, I will receive strength needed to keep moving forward.
- An unseen, but real, guide goes before me.
- Peace is possible even when problems seem impossible.
- Difficult grace is designed to build my faith.
- Even during life’s most difficult moments, grace will find me!
The Rest of this Story…
This past week I had my third yearly visit with the specialist. He came into the office where I was waiting, shaking his head slowly. “I’ve never seen this before!” The doctor explained the diagnostic test done three weeks ago was within normal range. He said this was the first time he’d ever seen anyone with my condition who had a normal test range.
One additional test was done in the office. That too was normal. We joked about me being a “boring” patient. I told the doctor, where my relationship with him was concerned, I like being “boring.” He agreed boring was good. Then he cautioned me not to forget about him completely, adding, “But, I don’t think we need to see each other for two more years!”
So, what was my response to this good report supposed to be?
Smugness that I’d finally figured out how to get God to answer my prayers and grace to work in my favor?
Yikes! I hope not!
Guilt because of all the precious people out there who ask and ask God to answer their prayers, and an answer doesn’t come?
No, guilt isn’t necessary. It’s okay for me to rejoice in this good gift from my Heavenly Father.
Entitlement to instruct others in the “right” way to exercise their faith?
“Please, Lord! Help me to NEVER do that!”
I believe the answer to my question can be found in these words spoken by Jesus:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)
And, so, I conclude: my response to divinely imparted grace is to love God more and more and to allow that love to be translated increasingly into greater love for others.
Whether you’re in a season of happiness or a season of difficulty, my prayer for you is that you’ll be able to see the gracious imprint of God’s grace in whatever this day brings…