“Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
but your commandments [Lord] are my delight.”
— Psalm 119:143 (NRSV)
Spiritual confusion overwhelms us within our emotions many times in this life; we become perplexed by overload or relational conflict or we are frustrated when our goals are thwarted. We may enter dry times where our experience of God runs thin to unfulfilling. There are many causes of desperation and we all know those places; some more than the many.
But the Christian is invited—by the Word of God—to hold in tension two very different realities. It is possible to have trouble and anguish, whilst pushing ever more ardently onward in our relationship with God. And what occurs is wondrous.
When we honour our grief in such ways as to carry it to the truth—to reside there for a while; not shirking the deal—we enter a process of healing. It doesn’t occur overnight, of course. Indeed, the notion of being healed is still some distance off.
We venture by truth and we call it faith.
Experiencing Saving Grace Whilst Hurting
When life is messy and its chaotic nature has had us frequently giving up, and where we feel we have failed more times than is any more relevant, we get to a place where quality of life doesn’t mean much any more. There are so many things that have gone wrong we cannot any longer see the things that do provide hope.
Going to God in the most extreme bouts of exasperating despair reconciles to us this saving grace that anyone can know; to experience a moment’s healing, perhaps the day after. Mixed with this going-to-God process has to be our best attempts to please God by simple biblical obedience.
This is not a works theology. It’s about taking responsibility for the things we can control. We work with God this way, the best we can; we are never expected to be perfect. God sees our intent, however faltering it is, and he blesses it.
That’s why we know it’s not a works theology; it’s all about intent. We honour God because we love God. It’s as simple as that. And it is possible to honour God by our intent even in the darkest hours.
God’s power can break through the toughest of times and speak into our anguish. Due our surrender at times when we are overwhelmed, we are given a miraculous power that allows us to hold on when we feel like giving up.
Grace is both peace and power. And we need both when the pit of lament has suckled us to itself. This power in grace manifests itself in peace. Suddenly we have acceptance and some relief from the pain. God has transformed it.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.