Grace is but Glory begun, and Glory is but Grace perfected. ~Jonathan Edwards
How can such a title as Painful Grace exist? Grace is supposed to be amazing or lovely or wonderful, right? Is God still good if we are suffering? The answer is yes. Yes, He is still GOOD. God poured out His grace when He gave us the free gift of salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ, and He continues to give us the necessary grace that will conform us into the beautiful image of Jesus. Often, because of our willful nature, this involves pain! “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” Philippians 1:6
Chronic physical pain is difficult and ugly and agonizing for our bodies. But pain can also be a lovely and necessary ordeal for our spirits in order to begin letting go of the things that charm us most in this physical world. I have found that pain can assist with truly comprehending that this life holds nothing greater than our faith placed in Jesus Christ alone. Because God works all things for our good, physical pain has played a part in pushing my eternal perspective past just “head knowledge” to a place where I truly understand with my heart. Consider the following:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4
The greatest joy I’ve discovered in setting my heart on things above is freedom! Freedom from anxiety. Freedom from fear. I simply don’t worry anymore about my earthly future or really even think about it too much. Come what may, I have an eternity promised with the One who is light and love. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!” John 8:36
However, let’s be honest. Pain hurts. Pain is a difficult path even if it does come with freedom and not one I would have readily chosen. Pain makes me cranky and sometimes whisper words that I won’t say in front of my kids. (Well I hope they don’t hear me!) But, I press on, believing in the greater good that God is working in my soul.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2
Grace step with me, one day at a time.