You know the pain we cause ourselves and You refuse to let us destroy ourselves. We search for satisfaction and You thwart our plans. Grace disguised. We find dependency and safety in man-made shelters and You allow chaos, leaving You alone as our dependency. Grace disguised. We set small dreams before us and for our future and You blow in like the rushing of a Mighty Wind, blowing them away, only to replace them with better ones. Grace disguised. You never cause pain without a purpose. You never scold us of our sin without offering us a hand to walk as the children You've designed us to be. You never rebuke us without calling to us, "Come now, let us settle this.." (Isaiah 1:18). You never watch us wallow in our death without offering Life, though grace may seem disguised.
The reality of this world is that we are fallen human beings, desperately starving for life. Life that You so abundantly, and yet ironically, offered through death. Grace was disguised that day, covered in the battered and beaten skin of a man housing the fullness of God. Nailed to a tree with undeniable force and hatred by His own creation. The Father's grace was covered in wrath. Jesus offered grace through accepting the Father's wrath in it's entirety. The weight of every sin of every human being to ever walk the earth was thrown onto the man who was God incarnate. He took it. The Father watched Himself - His beloved and precious Son - as He was brutally murdered. They were absolutely separated from one another, the pain evident as the Son cried out to His Father... "Why have You forsaken me?" Grace on that day, was disguised by wrath.
"Jesus wrecked my life, shattered it to pieces and put it back together more beautifully." - Katie Davis
I've been reading through Isaiah the past few days and God continually speaks about the rebellion of His children. God rebukes Judah, calling them out on all of their sin and telling them of how they have hurt and destroyed themselves. He is harsh, but always offers grace and compassion. He recognises their sin and rebellion but then calls them out of their mess into the beauty that God created them to be. But that required His judgement to fall, burning away all that they rely on and all that they find satisfaction in.
The Lord says "Beautiful Zion is haughty, craning her elegant neck, flirting with her eyes, walking with dainty steps, tinkling her ankle bracelets. So the Lord will send scabs on her head; the Lord will make beautiful Zion bald." On that day of judgement the Lord will strip away everything that makes her beautiful... Instead of smelling of sweet perfume, she will stink. She will wear a rope for a sash, and her elegant hair will fall out... Shame will replace her beauty. Isaiah 3:16-18, 24
The Lord will wash the filth from beautiful Zion and cleanse Jerusalem of its bloodstains with the hot breath of fiery judgment. Isaiah 4:4
What if the loneliness we experience is to teach us that we find true companionship in God?
What if our singleness or marriage leaves us with an emptiness that points to the only One who can truly satisfy?
What if our relationships fall apart all around us, directing us back to our Creator who wants to lavish us with His unending and unfailing love?
What if we feel purpose-less, but God uses that to open our eyes to a lasting purpose that will echo into eternity?
What if we are battling with depression, but it is for the purpose of teaching us true joy and peace that can endure any circumstance?
What if the loss of close family members teaches us that what truly matters in this life is how we love?
What if our insecurities push us to find our true identity in Christ, embracing our weaknesses and knowing His grace is more than sufficient for us?
What if the answers to our questions are delayed, only causing us to trust in God's sovereign character?
What if the feelings of hopelessness are there to push us to find hope in Christ, and to love those without hope?
God's desire for us is that we would know true life and find true satisfaction in all that Jesus is for us in God. What if the trials we are facing is the way that God prunes us of the empty promises we are trusting in. What if God has allowed this for your greater good? What if your Father is teaching you a beautiful lesson through discipline? Yes, it may feel like wrath now, but what if it sets you up in the end for His greater good for you? Isn't it worth it?
For me personally, 2013 was a year of finding true satisfaction and life in Jesus despite pain. I want to challenge you to look around and search for God's grace in disguise. It's there. I promise you.