But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. (1 Cor. 15:10)
She got up to read the assigned reading for Sunday’s worship. When she got to the line above, she faltered. She struggled to breathe. Tears began to roll down her cheeks. She had to grip the lectern to keep her balance.
In order to make sense of this moment, you need to know a few things about her. Making love work in her life had been very challenging. She had been divorced from two husbands, had buried two others, and was right then making funeral plans for her current husband. She was in her 80s, and had health issues. And her heart had just been broken when her beloved grandson died tragically.
Even though she had gone through no little suffering, she was always “all-in” to life. She didn’t shrink from any challenge, didn’t apologize for her complicated life, and didn’t ever whine. She was “tough as nails” and tremendously tender. She shared hard truths with love, and she had the fortitude to clean up any mess.
After the service I asked her what was going on when she had read the lesson. She said, “I know that the grace of God has pulled me through death, shame, grief, hurt, loss, and fear. I know that without the grace of God I would’ve died long ago. How could I read that lesson and not cry?”
I encourage us to know and embrace what that woman knew. It’s only with the grace of Jesus that we have gotten through our own losses, deaths, betrayals, disappointments, and mistakes. It’s only by the grace of Jesus that we can be forgiven and live into the joy and life that God desires for us.
I invite us to think and pray about the grace we have received and what that grace has meant, and does mean, to our life. May we read today’s words—“by the grace of God I am what I am”—until the tears roll down our face.
- When you read today’s scripture about you being who you are by the grace of God, how do you respond?
- How has the grace of God found you, lifted you, changed you, challenged you, strengthened you, and blessed you?
- Are you truly and fully living into and sharing the grace you have been given? If not, what would it take for you to do so?