One phrase that always captures me is, 'this grace in which we now stand.' I'll admit when Ann's affair was revealed my first thoughts were not about God's grace. My thoughts were of rage and hatred and revenge. Yet, our beings and our lives are immersed in grace whether we are aware of it at a particular moment.
Often, we think of grace as warm and fuzzy. You know chubby little angels and all that. Backing up just a bit in the passage we see that we have gained access to grace, peace with God, through Christ. And there isn't a whole lot that is warmly sweet in Christ's suffering amidst his crucifixion. It was ex-cruc-iating. This grace in which we now stand was attained through a messy and bloody day.
A phrase that defines our journey through affair recovery and finding real life in marriage is, 'suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope.' In the beginning I saw no point in the suffering. I just wanted to not hurt. I had no real hope for our future. As the suffering became a constant companion I learned it wasn't going to kill me. Learning to live with the suffering is persevering. Ann and I persevered. Though we could not see it day to day our characters were being formed as we faced all the suffering we could each moment of our 444 day journey. Through this our hope grew. There was always part of me that wanted out as we went through this, but more of me began to see possibilities for the future. On a glorious day in Dallas I was reminded how God rescued me in my moment of greatest need and hope exploded as my awareness of this grace in which we now stand opened fully to my eyes and soul. Suffering brought perseverance, perseverance character and character hope. And hope did anything but disappoint.
God poured his grace fully in my suffering and perseverance. He met me in my prayerful groans as the Spirit groaned with me. My deepest groans occurred the week after I found out about Ann's affair. I called to tell my pastor I wouldn't be down to preach at my licensing service and why. When I hung up the phone my soul and my chest heaved and heaved and heaved. I have probably never been more honest in my life. God's grace was present in my suffering though I had no clue in the moment.
I had the privilege recently to witness another go through the same such heaving and sobbing. I was fully aware of God's presence this time. I hurt for her and worshipped at the same time. God shows up and doesn’t necessarily disagree with the stupidity of our poor choices, but He meets us there to show His love and we experience ‘the grace in which we now stand.’