Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Grace

And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity. 2 Corinthians 9:8 (The Amplified Bible)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9


Last week I wrote about exhaustion, about how I felt I was approaching burnout, and how I had become aware that something needs to change in order to enable rest and refreshment whilst not neglecting my responsibilities in and out of the home.

This week, I have thought much about grace. I began to see clearly that there can often be a disconnect between what we might believe and how we actually apply that truth in our own lives. I sometimes can be aware that I can help and encourage a friend through a situation or trial where I myself am actually really struggling. I can say the words to others that I need to hear more than anything.

I've been thinking about my professional training. There are different types of training. There are the facts that you learn in a lecture theatre or in a practical class. There is the application of these which builds as you are exposed to increasing numbers of clinical cases. Then there are the subtle things that you are never really aware of being taught, but which develop with time. I remember as a medical student being told that you can learn something of great value from every clinician you work alongside, even if what you learn is how NOT to do things. That was so true! You could see the doctors who were able to communicate well with a patient, were really able to express empathy and show the patient that they were being heard, were in good hands and that they were fully respected as a person. I remember one day realising that those seniors who always seemed in a hurry and not to have time to listen actually took the same amount of time with each patient. I suddenly saw that there was a skill there, a real art, in being able to put the patient at ease and use the time wisely. Putting people at ease is something which I find I do naturally now - I tend to sense when another person is feeling uncomfortable in a situation and to reassure them. But what I can sometimes forget is that this might not be a natural response to others. It may not be because they don't hear or don't care, it just might not be a skill that has been acquired.

Why do I use that example? Well, over the past week I've been a bit more honest with a couple of people about how I have been feeling. And a couple of friends have replied to say that in their own lives, they feel frustrated when other people seem to be being offered lots of help and support, but nobody seems to hear them or recognise their needs. Hearing this, I started to realise this kind off thinking is risky - there is a risk of bitterness. It is only a small step towards thinking that nobody cares, and triggering a negative spiral of self-pitying thoughts. I know. I've been there before, it helps nobody and it is not in line with God's truth.

Its the disconnect between what we say we believe about grace, and what we really live in the light of. The Bible has so much to say about grace that I can hardly know where to start, but there are two verses that really struck me this week - the ones quoted above. ALL grace to ABOUND. Not just a little bit, but abounding. Plenty. Perfectly sufficient for every situation. Grace. No need to struggle, or fight, or try to earn. No need to clamour, no need to protest. No need to have external recognition (whether that be words of appreciation or acts of support). Simply perfect rest in the knowledge that God's promises are true, and He promises rest and peace.

Of course this doesn't change the things that need to be done, but it does change my attitude. There are some things which cannot be put off or delegated. But for me, some of the problem has also been worrying about the 'to-do lists' and worrying about not responding rapidly to queries and tasks. There are times when I can switch off. When the children are playing, rather than thinking about the next item on the list, I can sit down and just enjoy watching them. I've discovered there are small pockets of time in a day where I can rest, and even if not able to read my Bible or a book, I can meditate on what I have read earlier. I can pray. I can thank God for my family and all He has blessed us with. I can enjoy the moment rather than worrying about all the other things that need to be done.

It may sound small, but it is a small thing that has made a big difference. 

Where do you see grace in your everyday life?

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