God’s grace is often thought of as a “nice” term—one that sort of blesses us with a symbolic kiss from Heaven. But God’s grace is less of a sweet sentiment and more of a necessary power.
The apostle Peter wrote a letter to Christians who had been dispersed throughout the Roman provinces of Asia Minor. These Christians were experiencing opposition and persecution. In his letter, Peter addressed some of these hardships, such as being displaced from their homes, working for unreasonable employers, living in difficult marriages, and enduring unfair treatment. He ends the letter with an admonition: “My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace” (1 Peter 5:12b, NLT).
Was Peter suggesting that these Christians’ difficulties were not oppressions to escape but opportunities to learn the power of actively applying God’s grace in their lives? I believe he was. The apostle Peter, through his own many experiences of suffering, learned to live from the position of God’s grace.
Like Peter, we too “practice” living in God’s grace as we experience our own difficulties. To live in the midst of God’s grace is to live in His ability and strength despite our own weaknesses. Peter is admonishing us that we too can “stand firm in this grace.” We can experience the grace to endure a prolonged illness; grace to keep loving an emotionally distant spouse; grace to believe that the financial deficit will one day be overcome; grace to graciously answer an unreasonable boss.
As my mom was in the last month of her life a few years ago, I remember sitting with her and reading to her from Max Lucado’s book titled Grace. Her physical body had become uncooperative after experiencing several strokes, and her ability to communicate with words became too strenuous to be worth the effort. My mom had always been so strong. She had traveled the world, written beautiful short stories, preached the gospel, served as a medical missionary, and cared for each family member with such genuine love. After a lifetime of Mom serving others, there we sat in the living room – Mom listening as I read out loud about the grace of God to live and to die. It was a full-circle moment that reminded me of the meaning of the power of grace. It is truly only God’s grace throughout our lives that holds us, transforms us, empowers us, comforts us, and then finally leads us Home.