As a young believer, I found myself corralling grace into a corner — by grace I have been saved. Conversion was the theological boundary of grace in my mind. By it, I was adopted into God’s family and granted the future hope of heaven, but surely, the hard work — the blood, sweat, and tears — of living for Jesus depended on my strength and ability.
In writing to the Ephesian church, Paul understood the strong human desire to boast, but before he points out the sheer grace that saves all believers, he provides a stunning account of the spiritual blessings that we are granted in Christ — indeed, the grace of God extends far beyond only plucking us from hell!
In Ephesians 1, Paul sings praise to God for His grace in choosing us, redeeming us, adopting and forgiving us. He goes on, giving thanks for the grace of the Holy Spirit’s presence in us, the grace of growing in wisdom and knowing Christ. God’s grace not only saves us but also opens the door for us to know Christ with greater intimacy.
This is good news: The grace of God that saved me once sustains me now. Rather than patches of parched land, His grace covers the landscape of my life, and what a holy covering it is.
The beauty of God’s sustaining grace has moved off the pages of my theology textbooks and spread into every corner of my life. For the past few years, we have been losing my father to a disease that is slowly crippling both his body and his brain. This season of prolonged grief and loss continues to show me that grace is not just a divine response for help. As I care for my father, the gift of grace characterizes countless moments throughout my day.
Grace is the precious time I’ve been given with my dad in the face of death. Grace is the encouragement of friends when I’m confused and overwhelmed. Grace is a long peaceful walk, a smile from my dad, contagious laughter with my sister. God’s grace meets me in my tears and in my joy. His grace sustains me. His grace abounds.
With His sustaining grace, I know Jesus is near in the midst of pain and loss.
Yet in this sin-stained world, suffering can hold a commanding presence, and grace can seem more bitter than sweet. Believe me, what is being taken away from my father, from me, from our family, can feel like a greater injustice than the goodness that is coming about through this trial. The tension is strong: I am losing my father to an ugly disease while gaining precious time with him, moments of eternal significance. And this is where grace cuts in, and the presence of Christ becomes more real than ever. Christ may not eradicate this painful situation, but He has promised His presence and the comfort of His Spirit, come what may. Though loss lingers in our home, Christ covers us with His grace.
John celebrates this reality when he opens his gospel with a lyrical description of Christ’s incarnation.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
John 1:14, 16 (ESV)
In Jesus Christ, we receive boundless grace — grace that saves us and grace that sustains us. I am wholly undeserving of this gift, this grace that covers my life. I am left echoing Paul’s words to the Ephesians 1:14: all of this I have been given for the praise of his glory. I can take no credit. I can make no boast. I can only give thanks to the One who is present with me in the pain and covers me daily with His grace.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
Ruth Mills says
Amen! I feel for your family as years ago we lost my Mom to the cruelty of dementia. The sense of peace in the midst of the hard can only be called grace! So thankful God has revealed this to you. Thank you for sharing! Blessings & prayers for you & your family Christina!
I’ll be honest, I still struggle trying to understand just what the idea of “grace” is. I know I am “blessed” when I think of my children and when I see the majesty of the mountains that surround me or the oceans where I used to live; I feel blessed by having my friends in my life. But what is grace? Is it different from a blessing? I obviously need to dig deeper. Thank you for inspiring me to
One way of looking at grace is that it is something that we did not and can never earn. It is a gift from God that we do not deserve, but that He gives us freely just because He loves us! I’m so grateful for that!
Thank you for reminding me, that God’s Grace is covering me, each day, as my physical disabilities take over more of my life. Even though I can progressively do less, I can still grow closer to God each day!
Beth Williams says
I feel for & truly understand your situation. Both my parents had dementia. Mom was bedridden for two years before God graciously took her. Dad’s dementia turned into gero psych. I put him in gero psych ward of hospital twice. God was there with me through all of it. He heard my cries in the hospital when I couldn’t stand to see my dad like that. He gave me friends who would pray for & with me. That is grace. He also allowed me to quit a good job & be available for my dad full time. I will never regret that time with him. God’s grace sustains us daily. It is what got us through a pandemic. Praising God for His wonderous love.
Pearl Allard says
Christina, though this was apparently written a few years ago I appreciate the timeless reminder of grace’s unending and sustaining power. May He continue to cover and fill you with the grace to handle however the situation with your dad has played out. My heart goes out to you.