In His Grace
Guest Blogger: DeAnne LeBlanc Lover of Jesus, Wife of 15 years, Mama of two girls, a cat named Sherlock, and a crazy Golden Retriever named, Bear. I enjoy a good cup of coffee and if I’m not writing, I’m reading or thrifting.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelations 21:4 (NIV)
I have had a consistent nightmare since I was a child. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, I can’t shake the emotions that haunt me after I wake. In the dream, I don’t know who I am or where I am going. It’s pitch black and I’m completely alone. All of the sudden, I realize I’m falling fast through cold night air. I never get to the end of the nightmare. Before I know it, my body jerks me violently awake. I’m usually sweating and shaken up enough that it takes me awhile to get back to sleep.
For years, I couldn’t pinpoint the emotion or feeling that comes over me when I think of a life without Jesus. Then I had another nightmare. It was the first one I have had in a few years and a realization swept over me. The spiritually dark and foreboding feeling that lingered for hours after the dream is the same hollow ache I get in the pit of my stomach when I try and comprehend going through tragedy or crisis without Jesus. I imagine it would feel similar to the terrifying experience in my dream — hurtling through darkness with nothing to grasp onto, falling to what is sure to be certain death.
As dramatic as that may sound, I, in turn, can’t shake the overwhelming thought of what Jesus did when he died on the cross. He took that free fall leading to certain death for me. He chose to make the ultimate sacrifice so that my sins are no longer held against me. No matter what I go through in this life, the truth will always remain that He died and rose from the grave. That is a truth I cannot get away from. It should wreck me. Stop me in my tracks. Change me. Influence my decisions, my words, my thoughts, and most of all my heart. Because when he died, He changed everything. And that should mean everything to me.
Our family has battled through constant health struggles for myself and my daughter for years. There were seasons when we felt abandoned by loved ones and occasionally, it even created distance in our heart towards God. During our fight to achieve a somewhat “normal” life we would often wonder, “Where are you in this darkness, Lord?” Just about that time is when God would show up in a big way — either through insurance approving a treatment that doctors said would never be approved or finally finding a medication that helps a specific symptom.
God heaped peace and grace over us and under us as we walked each path, giving us wisdom ahead of every decision during the day and peace in spite of scary, unpredictable nights. He constantly reminds me that the wounds I have suffered can be healed by the one who was wounded FORme.Healing may not come the way I want, and might not even happen in this life, but because Jesus walked this earth, I believe He knows the pain I am currently enduring. He lived, breathed, and ached in this same broken world. He gets it. He knows.
Gregory of Nazianzus, a 4th-century Archbishop, and theologian, wrote about Jesus’ incarnation and redemption saying, “What is unassumed is unhealed.” Christ was sinless but he became fully human for a very specific reason. “Jesus assumed our fallen, sinful human nature to sanctify it from the inside out. To vicariously and redemptively take our place, Christ had to truly take our place in our fallen state.” (A. Shepherd, The Gospel Coalition)
Maybe that’s why I don’t think of God as a bearded old man in the sky waiting for us to fail so He can punish us. On the contrary, He came to us. His very name, Emmanuel, means, “God with us.” He wasn’t exactly what we were expecting and didn’t look quite like a king. He came as a humble child to a poor, outcast family and is now able to understand our emotions and pain. The Son of God identified with us to make it possible for us to identify with Him.
“There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.”
Psalm 53:5-6 The Message (MSG)
Yes, living in this broken world undoubtedly brings physical, emotional, and spiritual pain that can shake even the deepest of faiths. It means new wounds cause old ones to break open and bleed again. It means we are left with all-consuming regret that lingers years after the funeral is over. It means relationships turn abusive, marriages end, and children cry themselves to sleep.
In my dream, and also in life, I have yet to hit the pavement. God has never let me go. I am safe. I am loved. I am His. In the middle of the struggle and despite the brokenness of us, there is an unexplainable peace that defies logic when Jesus is known. With his fully God and fully human mouth, he promised to be my eternal hope. He heals the hurting and restores relationships. He breathes tangible calm to my spirit —an acute awareness that my God will never let me fall from his love coupled with the knowledge that someday everything broken will be put back together— in a way that only God can. Sadness will be traded for joy, tears will become laughter, mourning garments exchanged for dancing shoes, and all of my wounds—at last will be healed. Those who love him have His word that we will forever stay in His all-encompassing, all restorative, and always amazing… grace.
For Your Reflection…
Where do you need more grace and hope in your life? Can you take some time today to revisit old struggles or new hardships and look for the thread of His grace working on your behalf in those situations?