When we think of God’s grace we often think of the grace of forgiveness and mercy; the grace of salvation. You know…
“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like meeeeeee.”
But over the years I’ve learned and still am learning something. While I desperately need His grace when I sin and fall short of living the ideal of a life fully surrendered and directed by the Holy Spirit, I also need His grace when life falls short of my ideals, hopes and expectations.
We all have ideals for our life. Many of these ideals we seek are “good.” These hopes or ideals we have for our lives, our families and our friends are very often born out of virtue and the very nature of our created being and our vocations in life.
The man who desires to provide for and protect his family.
The missionary who wants nothing more than to care for the poor and feed the hungry in her midst.
The woman who longs to carry a child in her womb.
We hold onto our ideals. We dare to hope for what is good. All the while knowing that we live in an imperfect, fallen world; a world where often the distance between our hopes and reality is marked by disappointment.
This disappointment of the man or woman who never dreamed they’d end up divorced.
The disappointment of the parent whose wayward child is off doing a Prodigal Son tour.
The disappointment of the one who gives up their personal dreams to serve and take care of a sick relative.
The disappointment of the widower who loses his beloved and must live the rest of his days without her.
When our disappointments are rooted in an unfullfilled desire for something that is essentially good it can be especially difficult. It’s at times like these, when life is less than our ideal, less than perfect, that we need God’s grace.
We need grace to live with disappointments and still hold out hope for what is good and virtuous.
We need grace to offer up our disappointments as a sacrifice and see them as part of living in this fallen world and sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings.
We also need grace to see that sometimes our loss or disappointment can be a gift of grace itself.
It may well be the grace we need in order to allow the Holy Spirit to align our ideals, hopes, and dreams with his will and ways. Or, our loss or disappointment may be the grace we need to see a sin that we didn’t even realize we’d latched onto.
Big or small, our disappointments, our losses and sufferings make up the landscape of grace in our lives. Sometimes it’s hard to see the beauty of this landscape. We’re so focused on a specific disappointment or loss that we can’t see the forest for the trees. But if we are patient and we keep our gaze on him, we will eventually see the big picture and appreciate the grace of an imperfect life.