Grace is not just the soft comfort of God loving the broken. That is a part of Grace, but not the whole of it. Grace is also God denying us those things that we chase that are not Him.
Grace is God pursuing us in redemption to establish that relationship with Him for which He longs and for which we were created.
But the brokenness of us is often pursuing cheap substitutes. We crave satisfaction but are only briefly numbed by infatuation with one relationship after another, chemical distortion of drugs and alcohol, sexual exploits that mock true intimacy, money and possessions that trick us into thinking that we are valuable or important or even cared for by those around us who really just want our stuff.
But God is gracious and will, in His mercy toward us, kill that cheap thing and rip it from our clutching hands so that we will realize the shallow nature of that which we’ve worshiped. He does it so that we will turn to Him and find what we really need. We find what will actually satisfy and in which we will find ourselves complete.
We find Him.
I have always been moved by the love and acceptance of others. There are many reasons why, but for now let us just say that need for approval is just the way I’m broken. It numbed me, temporarily, to the reality that I was a mess. I felt good about myself, for a minute.
So last year I found myself in the process of having that idol crushed and torn away. When acceptance and adoration of others is your idol, the way God kills it, at least in my case, is public contempt by others. A year ago, I faced several public meetings where people I cared about assaulted my character, my skills and my value.
The good news is that, though some of those relationships remain wounded, others were restored and our church experienced healing, unity and peace during this year.
The best news is that in God taking from me what I should not have worshiped, He replaced it with Himself. In that, I have found myself in the greatest time of growth and peace in my walk with Him. I’ve never been more close to Him than I am. I’ve never loved Him more. I’ve never been more sure of His love for me. I’ve never needed public adulation less.
And I owe it all to the hard Grace of public ridicule. Thank God for His Grace.