When Grace is No Longer Amazing

single hand of drowning man in sea asking for help. sticking out of the water

Habakkuk:  How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery?

God: “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it. I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands.

Habakkuk: O Lord my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal- surely you do not plan to wipe us out? O Lord, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us, to punish us for our many sins. But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil. Will you wink at their treachery? Should you be silent while the wicked swallow up people more righteous than they?

God: “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. What sorrow awaits you who build big houses with money gained dishonestly! What sorrow awaits you who build cities with money gained through murder and corruption! Has not the Lord of Heaven’s Armies promised that the wealth of nations will turn to ashes?

(Habakkuk: 1:2-3a, 5-6, 12-13, 2:4, 9a, 12-13 NLT)

We stay complaining. 

Worse, too many of us complain about our lives without actually wanting to know the real source of our issues or the real solutions to our problems. We don’t want to unearth the trauma to heal. We don’t want to dismantle the systems from the root in order to right the wrongs. And at a personal level, we totally miss the whole “it could be worse” message that is wrapped up in every step we take with legs that work; with every breath we awaken with no matter how labored. I’m guilty of this. Majorly. We moan and groan and say, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” But here’s a better question. “Why do good things happen to bad people?”

Oh and for the record, I’m not talking about the extreme murderer/adulterer variety of “bad” people. I’m talking about the lie you and I told last week. The jealously you held against your co-worker last year. The worry I continue to harbor no matter how much I realize that it no longer serves me.

And I’m not sure any of that makes us “bad” as we are wont to define it. I actually understand how all of us can look at the utter devastation around us…hell, IN us…and wonder aloud: WTF. No, “bad” isn’t the word. More like “lacking in gratitude” (which seems more impactful and less harsh than “ungrateful.”) Or, maybe we’re just “hopeless.” As in… lacking hope.  

Yeah, we are quick to quote from the biblical text:  “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9). But, if I’m honest, my actions often do not indicate that I actually believe that. This, despite the fact that I’d totally think something was wrong if I didn’t have the things that this SAME GRACE I ignore affords me. 

Yeah. What a paradox.

So why is it that grace is no longer amazing to some of us? It’s like we expect it so much that it has receded into the background of our lives. We feel entitled to it. Why? Because we are human? I mean, I guess. And if we choose to eschew grace then why are we so terribly amazed by judgement. We are flabbergasted when we–wait for it–reap what we have sown. We are angry and devastated when we get what we deserve (and mankind as a collective deserves much). Noooo, we can’t for the life of us get that. We don’t marvel at God’s grace in these instances. We, maybe understandably, focus on the ugly in the world—instead of why the world isn’t uglier. We focus on the bad that exists instead of the good that has somehow survived our terribly HUMAN capacities. Habakkuk did that up top. And then he got the answer he didn’t expect. 

Basically God said…“Oh yeah it’s tight, and it’s about to get tighter.” 

Ooo-wee! That certainly flies in the face of the God we’ve designed for ourselves, huh? See, some folks have created (or benefit from) systems that keep the poor, poor and then have the audacity to wonder why God would allow poverty? Some folks demean and hate people who are different from them and wonder why in the world God would allow racism, sexism, colonialism, etc. to exist? 

Really.

Maybe we all just need to get a grip.

A grip on grace.

And then maybe we should all get on our knees before a Sovereign God and thank the Creator first for the intervention of the incarnation of the Messiah, Jesus. Then, for the grace and mercy that is extended to us on the regular.

Just a thought. 

-tmlg

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