My dad is such a positive person. Almost every time I talk with him and ask how he is doing, he says, “Great! I’m doing great.” That wasn’t true last month. My dad may have a positive attitude, but he doesn’t like to lie. When you’ve been in an accident that totals your car and you’ve been down with COVID longer than you want, it’s hard to say, “Things are great!” Neither a bad car accident nor COVID are fun at any age, but when you are 88 it takes a little longer to recover. My dad almost always is in a good mood, but he actually said October was "the month from hell." And October is his birthday month!
Cathy, my wife, had a week in October where something significant went wrong every day. And most days it seems she got a text, call, or email with news that wasn’t easy to hear. She didn’t say it quite as strongly as Dad, but October was a hard month for her. And October is her birthday month too!
My dad and my wife both love God and do their best to be good people. But even good people have bad days, months, years.
The central principle in John Wesley’s theology is grace. Wesley defined grace as God's "bounty, or favour: his free, undeserved favour,... For there is nothing we are, or have, or do, which can deserve the least thing at God's hand." I see grace simply as God loving us more than we ever deserve.
As a Methodist pastor, I had to learn 4 different aspects of grace according to Wesley. The first is prevenient grace. God is working in and around us for our good even before we are aware. The second type is justifying grace. None of us is good enough to deserve God’s forgiveness. Thankfully, through Jesus’ sacrifice, we receive forgiveness if we humbly accept it. Third, through God’s sanctifying grace the Holy Spirit “cleans us up” over time as we strive to be more like Jesus. Finally, by God’s glorifying grace we can completely and eternally be with God in His glory.
I hope Wesley is OK with this, but during October Cathy and I added a 5th aspect of grace to our list. We are calling it “surviving grace.” Sometimes it takes God’s grace just to make it through the day.
How about you? Have you ever had a day, week, month, year you felt overwhelmed, hopeless, and even forgotten by God? During our tough month, a YouVersion devotional featured Psalm 88. Psalm 88 is a song written about feeling forgotten by God. The devotional writer said, “The inclusion of this Psalm in Scripture is an acknowledgment that feeling this way, at some point, is part of the human experience. However, there’s a reason only one of the one hundred and fifty psalms ends like this, God does not want us to stay in this place.”
I believe by God’s grace we can have a rich, abundant, good life. Cathy and I are glad October is over and are looking forward to the coming holidays. Dad is again saying he is doing great. But not everyday will feel that way. Some days we need God’s “surviving grace.” The apostle Paul wrote that even if we don’t feel it or see it, those “surviving grace” days may be the ones God uses the most for our good and the good of others.
My power works best in weakness.”
So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ can work through me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)