Abundance that Comes through Hardship

Genesis 1: 22 God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

God Is a God of abundance.  He fills the earth with life. It comes popping up from every conceivable place.  And its variety is unending, vastly diverse in its original forms, but constantly changing, adapting, developing new forms.  From the frozen tundra to the desert rockscapes, from the deepest caves to the highest cliffs, life springs forth.  It is unstoppable.  A sterile environment, completely free of all flora and fauna, is remarkably hard to create and maintain and can only be done in relatively small spaces.  Even our individual bodies are teeming with lifeforms not our own, millions of microbes—but far from destroying us, they enhance our lives.  Each ecosystem maintains an equilibrium, allowing these life forms to have symbiotic relationships rather than one destroying another in competition for resources.  That is how grace works in this world—God’s resources are never limited, even after sin enters the world.  His grace is always sufficient, even excessive, for each of us. He does not need to take from one to give to another, for he offers abundant life to all.

But it doesn’t seem to be so.  With true grace, God sends the good rain on the just and unjust alike without discrimination, but draught is equally egalitarian.  When the just suffer so much and the unjust often suffer so little, how do we recognize the working of grace?  We suppose that when things go well for us in our jobs and housing and health, we are blessed, that grace is in full play, but external blessings are just a good paint job which may cover a crumbling shack.  The fundamental work of grace is a complete remodel, and that necessitates a great deal of breaking down and messy rebuilding.  I have yet to meet a deep, mature soul that has not been through a good deal of adversity.  Suffering does not guarantee growth, but it is a much richer soil for that end.  Wind-battered trees sink their roots the deepest.

The measure of grace is not in the ease and comfort of life, but in the degree to which one’s heart is transformed by love into love–even blessing our enemies, the hard earned freedom from the corrupt views of this twisted world, the patience and endurance and faith that stands steady in the highest winds, and the readiness to face into the storm of our own misgivings and doubts and fears to embrace life in all its complexity and uncertainty, to hope against hope until the end.  That is true grace.

Father let me always see beyond the immediate pain to the fundamental restructuring you are accomplishing in me brick by brick.  Let me not draw back from the pain of growth and healing, but to trust your grace and grasp it with both hands on this hard journey.

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