The Unforeseen Grace of God

“I always regarded the death of my husband, Jim, as the worst possible thing that could happen…but you know what? When the worst thing you could ever imagine, happens, there is something that was not there in your imaginings—and that is the grace of God” (Elisabeth Elliott).

I’m guilty of playing the worst case scenario game. You know. The one where you imagine the absolute worst outcome of any particular circumstance. What would you do? How would you react? How would you manage? Could you survive?

Usually, there’s one element missing in my version of the worst case scenario — God. I see me and I see the problem, but I don’t see God. I see myself having to figure it out and navigate the choppy waters.

But when the worst happens, which I have found is very rarely, that’s when you discover in reality what you knew up to that point in theory — the grace of God. It’s one thing to pray about it and to talk about it and to sing about it and yet another to experience it in real time. It’s one thing to read about someone else’s encounter with God’s grace and another to have your own Damascus road showdown.

I think about Elisabeth Elliott and how young she was when she lost Jim. She was in a foreign country, thousands of miles away from everything familiar, reeling from the loss of her lifetime companion. Yet that’s where she met the lovingkindness of God in a way that she never could have in any other scenario.

You can talk all day long about how you believe God is with you through the trials and dark nights and pain, but you never really understand it until you’re in the valley of the shadow of death yourself.

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