Uncomfortable Grace

“What is uncomfortable grace? It’s when God gives you what you need, not what you want.”  – Jeff Robinson

I don’t want to be sewing face masks for health care workers who’re on the front lines of a war with a ridiculously infectious disease without proper tools. I don’t want to be telling my clients that the factory that makes their lanyards is on mandatory shut down and I can’t ship their order. I don’t want events to be canceled, kids home from school, or small businesses to find themselves with no customers. I don’t want everyone ordered to stay home, people laid off, and our economy brought to a standstill. I certainly don’t want thousands of people dying, tens of thousands sick, and health care workers and systems function sing beyond the breaking point. I don’t want nurses, doctors, and techs dealing with a horrific situation and coming home unable to hug their kids or rest in the arms of their spouse.

I don’t want any of it. I don’t want this virus.

But, what I want really doesn’t matter. Because the virus is here and wreaking havoc on our country as well as many others both before and after us. Please read the next sentence carefully and understand. I am not saying that God sent this virus because it’s what the world needed. That’s not at all what I’m implying. But, it has been uncomfortable grace in many ways for me and for the church. Maybe for you as well.

Uncomfortable graceUncomfortable grace in my life.

I don’t want this virus, but it has certainly cleared my schedule so I have more time to be with God, more time to be with my family, and more time to do the things he’s asked me to do. May he find me redeeming this time with healthy choices that deepen my relationship with him, deepen my relationships with my family, and spending time developing my creative practice because that’s what he’s been trying to get me to do for years. I’d started that process, but it’s definitely put it on the fast track.

I don’t want this virus, but it’s reminded me of God’s priorities. My priority is often my own comfort. His priority is my holiness. He’s not overly concerned if I have food in the house for the breakfast I always have. I’m confident we’ll eat throughout this (somehow), but eat like we’re used to eating? Not important. It is important that I learn to hunger and thirst after the word of God. It is important that I seek after him with the intensity we’ve all been seeking after toilet paper.

I don’t want this virus, but it has helped me see what a distracted life I lead. I’ve understood how scrolling my phone can be an endless distraction from life and the people who need me. I’ve seen how it ramps up anxiety and panic. I’ve seen how shutting it off and walking away lets me focus on truth instead of what the media or random internet people want me to focus on. I’ve learned that the “slower, deeper, quieter” message he’s been whispering to me has been amplified and is perfect for this time.

I don’t want this virus, but it’s stripped away things that I’ve been dependent on rather than being dependent on him. I’ve depended on my business, my community, my routine, my own strength, my friends, my skills…I could probably go on and you probably have a similar list. But, I’m to be dependent on God and not any of those things. Suddenly those are being stripped away and I’m seeing the sin in my life.

I don’t want this virus, but in one week, the church left its buildings and broadcast its message thousands of flavors to anyone with an internet connection.

I don’t want this virus, but people by the thousands are asking existential questions and genuinely seeking answers. Answers which God’s people are the ones perfectly positioned to share.

I don’t want this virus, but it has brought together communities, mobilized countries, raised up heroes, reminded us of our humanity, and generated kindness beyond measure.

I don’t want this virus, but it’s showing us on a cultural level that we need God. I need God. I can’t do this life alone.

Gratitude for grace that molds me.

This is not the situation I’d choose to correct my priorities, be rid of my distractions, become dependent, or see the church flourish in, but it’s the situation we have and I’m grateful for grace, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

You are tempted to think that because you’re God’s child, your life should be easier, more predictable, and definitely more comfortable. . . . [But] struggles are a part of God’s plan for you. . . . You must not allow yourself to think God has turned his back on you. You must not let yourself begin to buy into the possibility that God is not as trustworthy as you thought him to be. . . . When you begin to doubt God’s goodness, you quit going to him for help. You don’t run for help to those characters you have come to doubt. God has chosen to let you live in this fallen world because he plans to employ the difficulties of it to continue and complete his work in you. This means that those moments of difficulty are not an interruption of his plan or the failure of his plan, but rather an important part of his plan. I think there are times for many of us when we cry out for God’s grace and we get it—but not the grace we’re looking for. . . . It comes in the form of something we would never have chosen if we were controlling the joystick. – Paul Tripp via Gospel Coalition

Uncomfortable grace isn’t coffee-mug-saying or cliche-spouting. It’s beauty growing in the ashes. It’s wildflowers sprouting after a forest fire. It wasn’t cheap; it was purchased with Jesus’ heartache, pain, blood, and obedience. It’s the hope of the resurrection in the middle of every hard thing we’re dealing with. It’s the ongoing work of the gospel in your life working for your benefit and not your comfort.

Yes, this is ridiculously uncomfortable grace. And while I’m not grateful for this wretched pandemic, I’m profoundly grateful for the work of God’s grace in my life through it.

“Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

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