I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Diana Rose (WITHIN Devotional Writer)
“The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;”
We love to celebrate God’s grace when it finds us in a season of plenty, when the sun is shining and all is right in our world. Praise easily slips from our lips when God’s will is in alignment with our desires, and our prayers are answered with our preferred outcomes. Amen, and praise God
when our marriages are flourishing, when our children are choosing to obey, when the bills are paid and there is food on the table! God deserves all the glory indeed when our health is vibrant, our relationships are satisfying, and our days are productive.
But what is the posture of our hearts when God’s grace brings us to our knees with grief, when we find ourselves overwhelmed by our suffering, when the tests and trials come? Is praise our first response when illness finds us? Do we worship when we fall into hardship? Is it difficult to give God the glory due Him when life hurts? Life is not easy in a fallen and broken world, and the question we ought to ask ourselves is how do we define grace?
“In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider- God has made the one as well as the other” -Ecclesiastes 7:14
On March 5, 2020 Soledad Arriola died at the age of 98 of medical complications associated with aging. God graciously allowed for her family to visit and say their goodbyes before March 13, 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Just over a month later on April 23, 2020 her youngest son died unexpectedly at the age of 65. His passing within weeks of his mother brought a grief almost too great for the family to bear.
Soledad left a legacy of twenty-five grandchildren, fifty-three great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. I am one of the twenty-five grandchildren and the first born of her youngest son.
When my grandmother passed I could see God’s grace in so many ways. The Lord blessed her with a long and full life, giving her 98 years of opportunity for faith. God graciously provided for me to travel to Los Angeles to spend time with her. God allowed me to pray with and for my aunts and uncles and cousins. The Lord gently prepared our hearts for the inevitable. I cried, I prayed, I trusted God and leaned seamlessly into His grace.
When I received the news of my father I was so shocked and blinded by grief that I struggled to perceive even a thread of God’s grace. His death brought a multitude of conflicting emotions. I was angry, confused, sad, guilt ridden and so overwhelmed I felt like I was drowning. It was with few words I asked God to give me eyes to see His grace in the midst of what felt like unraveling. Then I opened the Scriptures.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26 ESV
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 ESV
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” 2 Timothy 2:1 ESV
The biblical definition of grace is embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Our circumstances are not meant to be the indication of grace in our lives, Christ is. Our feelings don’t move us into or out of grace, Jesus supplies us with His all sufficient grace. If we are honest biblical grace isn’t always what we are looking for, but it is always exactly what we need. Throughout the joys and sorrows of all of life we must keep our gaze firmly fixed on Jesus, the face of grace.
If you don’t know Jesus yet He gives grace for that too:
“even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—”
Ephesians 2:5 ESV
I remember the last time I saw my father. It was a “chance” meeting: I was leaving the hospital from visiting my grandmother and my father was arriving. It had been over a year since he and I had spoken. I remember in that moment seeing his face, I felt no resentment for the time lost between us, and instantly ran to him and hugged him tight. I remember telling him I loved him. Grace.
My half brother and I have rekindled our relationship and he’s allowed me to pray with him. Grace.
I now understand how to comfort others who have tragically lost loved ones. Grace.
Prayer: Lord thank you that you define grace. Help us to keep our eyes fixed upon Him.
*In Loving Memory of Soledad Arriola and her youngest son Steve
The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
2 Timothy 2:1
Questions to Reflect on:
Worship Song of the week to keep our eyes gazed upon HIM:
Artist: Maverick City/Naomi Raine
Song: The Story I'll Tell