When Grace is Painful

One of the reasons Jason and I started our book discussions now more than three years ago, is because we wanted to have a way to challenge each other and share things that we were each learning that could help each other to grow. And never has that happened more than during this book discussion on Andy Stanley’s book, “The Grace of God.”

A couple of weeks ago, one of our friends in the discussion—Dusty—said something that reached out and touched me like a two by four between the eyes.

 “We have names and categories of people we feel do not deserve God’s Agenda of grace and salvation. We want to see them condemned. Into that darkness, God steps in with His arms outstretched in love with healing and forgiveness for all who accept it.” (Dusty Rayburn at www.devotedconversations.com)

I think of myself as a forgiving person. There are certain people I’ve spent years trying to fully forgive. Namely, my abusers. I think I’m “over it.” And I think I’ve forgiven them. But with Dusty’s three sentences, the realization rushed in on me that one of the reasons I’ve been able to put my anger past me is because I’m picturing God raining lightning bolts down on my abusers’ heads. God is going to give them powerful, angry, vengeful justice one day, right? So, I can let it go now. But in the time it took to read those three sentences, I had a realization that God isn’t just a God of justice, He’s also a God of mercy and grace. And so, if my abusers cry out to Him for forgiveness, He will forgive them. And the next time I face them, I may be spending eternity in Heaven with them.

Is that really fair? These guys abused me. They mistreated a child of God.

Andy Stanley talks this week about the criminal on the cross next to Jesus, who, for years, had lived a horrendous, brutal life (we assume; I mean, he was being crucified, after all). But in the last breaths of his life, he asked Jesus simply to remember him in his Kingdom. And Jesus responded, “My friend, you are coming with me.” (my paraphrase)

If Jesus can forgive this man on the cross…

If Jesus can forgive me for things so bad I can’t even bring myself to share them with you…

Then, Jesus can forgive my abusers if they call out.

And that means I have to be prepared for that. I have to be prepared to accept God’s mercy and grace to others, as well as to myself.

And thankfully, God is big enough to help me to do that which I cannot do by myself.

That’s grace.

In Andy Stanley’s words:

“Christ’s death and resurrection signaled to the world that the kingdom of God is not reserved for good people. It is reserved for forgiven people. Good forgiven people. Pretty good forgiven people. Not-so-good forgiven people. And people like the criminal on the cross who didn’t have any good to bargain with.” (Stanley, “The Grace of God.”)

This post is part of a weekly discussion that my friend, Jason Stasyszen and I are co-facilitating about Andy Stanley’s book, “The Grace of God.” You don’t have to read the book to stay and chat! If you’ve written a response to this week’s chapter, please link up at the widget below!

 

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. Good stuff – you know that, I hope. :)

  2. Oh, Sarah…that is a tough one. I always think about Corrie Ten Boom long after she had come out of the concentration camp (where she lost her whole family) after one of her speaking engagements, she recognized a former guard, one who was particularly abusive waiting on the sidelines. God spoke to her heart and told her she had to forgive him……She told God she couldn’t do it (on her own) while he strode toward her with tears steaming down his face she found that God did what she couldn’t do herself and she did, in fact forgive him. Not easy to do…….at……all.

  3. Well thank you for the mention! And oddly enough I quoted those same three sentences in my post for today.

    We do not have the right or ability to determine God’s fairness or justice for everyone of us would be hopelessly condemned if not for His grace.

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks, Rick! :-)

  5. Sarah Salter says:

    Oh, Lori! Corrie Ten Boom endured so much more than I have! But how is it that for more than 30 years, I didn’t realize that forgiveness means being willing and even happy to see them in Heaven? THANK YOU for sharing that!

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    You’re welcome for the mention, Dusty! And it’s not altogether unheard of for us to share the same quotes. :-)

    And you’re absolutely right. We don’t have that right or ability. Praise God for that!

  7. Amen! When I begin to think I have anything good to barging with or offer God, I’m reminded that none are good. We all need grace and He freely gives it.

    I’ve so enjoyed reading this book and this series. My only regret is not having the time to fully participate.

  8. Sarah Salter says:

    TC, we’re glad to see you whenever we can! :-)

  9. I found you at Rick’s Saturday shortcut.
    http://www.plannedpeasanthood.com/2013/07/saturday-shortcuts-8/
    We do tend to exclude some who we feel do not qualify for grace – – but the truth be known, others have their own do not qualify list and I and perhaps you, are on their list. :-)

  10. Sarah, my Dad was like the thief on the cross, saved the night before he died. I was obedient to the Lord in taking care of him four years before he died with one word of an, “I’m sorry ” from him on the abuse he gave myself and whole family during our childhood. Only by God’s grace was I able to forgive him. Forgiveness was a long tearful, heart wrenching process but I am free now, those abusive memories do not hurt me anymore, I can talk about them, give them to God to use and He does. Just you writing this mercy post has brought more freedom to your heart I am sure. Bless you my sister…keep embracing freedom. Thanks for being a courageous wise hearted woman and sharing a painful time with us. I would like for you to send me your address, I want to send you a gift. My email is: bettydraper1947@gmail.com

  11. Sarah Salter says:

    Hazel, you’re right! That makes me so glad that it’s GOD’S list that counts! Thanks for coming by! :-)

  12. Sarah Salter says:

    Betty, I thought I had completely forgiven them — until I realized I might have to spend time with them in heaven. It reminds me that God’s healing is often like an onion — one layer at a time. :-)

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