The subtitle to my blog is more than a phrase, it is a lifestyle: “Learning to see the good and bad as grace…” Before I explain what this has meant for me, I want to make it clear that this is a worldview within the Christian worldview. This is a way that we as Christians can perceive the events of our lives. I have chosen to see the transpiring moments of my days on this earth in this light. This is a counter-cultural way to see the world; it does not come naturally or easily.
The Unnatural Worldview
As humans, we tend to let our circumstances determine how we behave. We wake up a little later than we should have, our coffee was made wrong, our boss chewed us out, our child gets sick with the flu, and for the rest of the day, we will be miserable. We let our circumstances rule our lives. Worse still, we let them steal our joy.
Of course, these are small trials in life. What about when a loved one passes away? Or when we get that diagnosis from the doctor? How about when we lose our job and don’t have a back-up plan? These are some bigger trials that will come into play on the stage of life. How should we respond to these? Those without Christ would get bitter, depressed, jealous, or abusive. How should the Christian respond to these trials? How should we react when we our child is driving us crazy, and how should we react when a family member dies? This lifestyle will help us respond correctly to both the small and the more daunting trials we may face.
Circumstances Don’t Rule
Circumstances don’t rule the Christian’s life. There are several reasons why this is true. God is in control and is good, we are not meant to live on earth permanently, and the physical realm does not encapsulate our joy. The bottom line is that the Christian can look at the good, the bad, and the ugly and see them all as grace.
God is in control… It may sound cliché, but it is true. “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). God is all-knowing and all- powerful. He is also good. He knows exactly what is best for us. Sometimes, this means we receive that diagnosis or we lose our job. God knows what’s going on and what is best for us. In Tim Keller’s book Prayer, Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, he says,
God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knows.
Unanswered prayer, trials, and tribulation come to us through God. There is a reason for them, there is a purpose for our current struggles. Remember in them that God is in control, and He will guide us through them. This is promised in Scripture and displayed in the lives of many of the Biblical heroes of the faith. God is faithful to us even in our darkest moments.
This is not our home… We are on this earth for a very short time. If we have received the Greatest Grace, we are only waiting for forever to get here. Earth is not our home, worshiping Christ before His throne is. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:1-2, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.” These trails only make us long for our coming, unbroken eternity with our Savior.
He is our joy… We do not live for the prosperity of earthly gains, but for the prosperity of the soul. Knowing Christ is our joy, and nothing can come close to comparing to this. Everything else leaves us empty, with a gaping hole in our chest. Again, Paul writes, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). When we understand this, our worries, fears, and pain are belittled. Our joy is not found or restricted by the fading physical world; it is explosively discovered in our growing, intimate relationship with Christ.
Bad as Grace
When we understand and believe these things, we can choose to see the good and the bad as grace. It is still hard. Sometimes the pain is unbearable, the horror too horrific, the death too often, but I believe that even in these circumstances, we can experience spiritual peace because our hope is in God. These times can be an opportunity to lean even more into Christ, depending upon Him completely. When the trials come, they can be for our good. The horrible things we experience can be grace in our lives.
Suffering has a way of stripping away all of our guards and self-protection to get to our hearts. This is why Scripture refers to suffering and affliction as the refiners fire; trials refine us and transform us more into the image of Jesus Christ. Unpleasant circumstances will force us to see the ugliness of our hearts that we have been trying to hide.
Each morning we wake up, we have no idea what the day will hold. A season of suffering could be close at hand, and we will have a choice to make.
Because of the eternal graces, we can choose to see the good and the bad as grace. Because God is good, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, just, loving, and merciful we can choose to see the most wretched circumstance as grace in our lives. We may never understand, but we should still choose to accept.
The choice is yours. The decision lays before you each day. Will you choose to find your joy in Christ or in the passing physical world? It is when we choose to find our joy and worth in Christ that we are set free. This is the gateway to thriving in any circumstance rather than desperately clawing your way to survival in the midst of everyday life. Examine your heart, where are you seeking joy?
Lord, help me to see the good and the bad as grace. I no longer want to live my life according to life’s restless circumstances. I want to have the joy of Paul, that even in prison he had unimaginable joy. I want a peace that surpasses understanding. Give me joy in you. Help me to hate my sin and love you more. Conform me into the image of your Son.