Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Low Down on Grace

Have you ever been ‘low’?
Not I-broke-a-nail or stubbed-my-toe low. Not the-picnic-got-rained-out low or front-row-tickets-already-sold-out low. Not even we-lost-the-championship low or my-dog-ran-away low.
No, I’m talking about the bottom of the barrel, rock bottom, the end of the rope already frayed to single fibers – so low that you wonder why you’re still breathing?
This world is full of things that will drag you to the low point. It’s different for everyone, that last straw, that one thing that takes you from standing strong to utter weakness, from seeing the silver lining to pitch black loneliness and despair.
I don’t know if everyone experiences that hopeless feeling of wanting to give up. But I’ve sure met a lot of people who’ve been there or are there.
Even {gasp} Christian people. 
True, Christians have the resources to stay positive – we have the ultimate, eternal hope secured that exceeds death itself. We carry the heavy burden of feeling we should keep it together all the time, not ever reach that lowest of lows.
But that doesn’t exempt us from troubles (Ps. 34:19), and as humans, troubles can take us down low.
The thing is, God’s Word is full of righteous people who have been that low. Those who have suffered incredibly more than I could ever imagine. And in those stories, I find out how they overcame the awful pressure to give up.
God loves us so much that He addresses this issue, really throughout His Word. Two accounts especially stand out to me lately.
First, the Apostle Paul. I’d say he was a pretty strong dude, physically, mentally, spiritually, everything. He was stoned within inches of his life a couple times, ship wrecked, imprisoned… but he keeps such a great attitude! Sharing with us his encouragement through the letters to the early church. But in 2nd Corinthians (12:7-10), he also admits that he was given a thorn in his flesh. It says it tormented him and he begged the Lord to take it from him three times. He really, really wanted whatever this thing was dragging him low to be gone!
But God said no. Even gave a reason. But He also gave Paul a tool to cope. He told him: My grace is all you need.
Second, Jesus Himself. Of course, we know He suffered. That’s the whole point – He suffered in a way we’d never survive, but would have had to endure if He hadn’t done it for us – pay for our sins, penalty of which being death. But just because He was God didn’t mean that the act wasn’t a sacrifice through which He suffered greatly. He even asked God the Father to be delivered from it, sweating drops of blood He was so stressed (a human, physically possible occurrence). (Luke 22:42-44) Yet He ended that prayer with: not My will but Yours be done.
I don’t know where you are. Perhaps life is trucking along great with no worries plaguing your upbeat, joyful, smiling attitude.
I just know where I am. But if I have two weapons left in my arsenal for this spiritual war called life, it’s these:
God’s grace is all I need.
God’s will be done.
I hope this reminds someone else to look Up no matter your current vantage point.

 P.S. I found this looking for a picture to go with my thoughts. This is what grace does to our despair! When our sight says - this pit is bottomless! - grace reminds us that our low has a measure and God has it all under control.