The job interview results in yet another “thanks but no thanks” letter. Results from the second graduate school entrance exam arrive, still short of the score needed to gain admission with scholarship assistance to the school of choice. An infant lies quietly in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit while mom and dad await their chance to hold their newborn for the first time. The spouse of nearly 60 years finally succumbs after years of illness, causing an incomparable sense of loss.
For many people, this life seems bereft of happy endings. Sadness, setbacks and catastrophes come in so many shapes and sizes that those suffering the effects often feel alone in their grief. Yet it’s in these very moments when God comes closest to His children with His divine grace, love and mercy.
In fact, God is masterful at sending us the right grace at just the right time.
Consider the outpouring we see in the wake of natural disasters. It’s one of the few times that you can count on the news media to show people actually showing their love for one another.
Call it what you want, but I call it God’s grace. We don’t really deserve anything special because we’ve suffered some sort of failure or loss. That’s exactly what grace is — God’s gift to those who don’t necessarily deserve it. He gives use these gifts for several reasons:
Because He loves us—We’re still His children, despite our many sins and shortcomings. He loves us unconditionally, regardless of how badly we behave and how many times we’ve disappointed Him.
To provide us opportunities to accept help humbly and with gratitude—There’s still a bit of the Marlboro Man in many of us. We fancy ourselves self-made, self-supporting, independent creatures who go it alone quite well, thank you. In the personal love relationship God desires with each of His children, He wants our hearts and often allows difficult circumstances to get them.
Just because He can—We tend to forget at times that God is Almighty and can do anything at any time by any means He chooses. In fact, that’s a joyful by-product of giving our time, talent and treasure. By doing so we become channels of God’s love, grace and mercy to others.
As bystanders we have no control over the flow of God’s grace and mercy. At times, we find God’s grace where we think it shouldn’t be. At others we wonder what’s taking so long for that grace to arrive exactly when and where it should.
God never withholds any good thing from His children. It’s simply our own faulty, earthly judgment that sees it that way. It’s good in these times to remind ourselves that God’s ways are not our ways.
As recipients we can refuse such gifts or we can accept them with a deep sense of gratitude, first for God’s great love and second for His obedient children who deliver the goods with tenderness and love. The practice of constantly thanking God and trusting in His enduring, ever-present love provides the solace and compassion to get us through any adverse event that comes our way.
By praying constantly and giving thanks in all circumstances, as St. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians, we stay close to the source of all grace, mercy and love, knowing that God’s perspective and plan are better than ours will ever be.
John Earl Carroll is a columnist and entrepreneur based in Mount Pleasant. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.