F is for favour (part 2)

“However badly things seem to be going for me right now, I must try to enjoy all the graces God has given me today.  Grace cannot be hoarded.  There are no banks where it can be deposited to be used when I feel more at peace with myself.  If I do not make full use of these blessings now, I will lose them forever.

God knows that we are all artists of life: one day He gives us a hammer with which to make sculptures and another a brush to paint a picture. But you can’t paint a picture with a hammer or make a sculpture with a brush! Therefore, however difficult it might be, I must accept today’s small blessings – even if they feel like curses because I am experiencing suffering on a beautiful day, when the sun is shining and the children are singing in the street.”

Paraphrased from Paulo Choelo’s novel ‘The Zahir’.

In recent months I have become fond of saying, ‘There is no grace for tomorrow’.  It has become our profound experience.  There is an incredible supply of grace for today – the kindness of heaven is poured upon us like the manna that fed the Israelites in the desert:

Look up!

He gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens: he rained down manna for the people to eat. He gave them the grain of heaven, human beings ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat.’ Psalm 78v23-25.

Yes and amen – this is the kind of favour we have being experiencing in our lives in the midst of our trials. But just like the manna, it can only be collected every morning and not kept overnight – except by special arrangement on Sabbaths!  That is why we are told not to worry about tomorrow, because ‘it will take care of itself’ (Matthew 6v34): when tomorrow becomes today the grace will be there for it… and not before.  So it is a waste of energy to worry about what might happen and what on earth we will do and how we will cope…there simply will never be grace for tomorrow! The Lord wants us to trust Him for NOW.  And NOW and NOW and NOW (see …at the moment)

The Brazilian author above was quoted today – though not in his native Portuguese 😉 – at a gathering in Rugby (thank you, Anne!). It takes us one step deeper, helping us see even more clearly why we must keep our focus on today. Which is of course because ‘it has enough trouble of its own’ (Matthew 6v34 again), but in addition is because the Lord has also provided things to make us grateful and even joyful NOW even in the midst of the trouble – and if we don’t look for them we will miss these treasures!  “…the sun is shining and the children are singing in the street”!

Our Father has promised to provide for us, He is faithful and His grace abounds all the more in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12v9): the whole point of this walk with Him is to lean, trust and rely on what He can do and not what I can do.  That’s why He wants me to ‘offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving that honours Him and opens the way for the salvation of God’ (Psalm 50v23). And perhaps that salvation is even more necessary when it is a choice and a ‘sacrifice’ that costs me something to do it.  Choelo is challenging us to recognise, accept and try to enjoy the gifts of grace and blessing around us even in the middle of painful feelings and things that are not as they should be.

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

I am not advocating pretending – AS IF! There is nothing more important in worship than honesty –  it has to be ‘Spirit and truth’. I’ve written about this before in Joy is Peace dancing. But it’s when we really look at Jesus, when we consider and count His blessings, recognise His grace and favour in our lives, that true praise and worship rises in the face of every circumstance.

It is exactly one year since I wrote a seminal piece about the goodness and blessing of God in the midst of our pain: The man in black. Martin still cries every time he hears this read – but it remains true of our journey of suffering.  I was astonished to be given the following piece by someone I met at a Christmas party who claimed he and his late wife were confirmed atheists – yet she still saw the grace all around her in her suffering:

Ten good things about having cancer with chemotherapy

1 I’m less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease

2 I’ll get some new hair – might be nicer

3 I’ve become closer to my 3 lovely sons and other family members

4 We’ve been reminded how many generous and thoughtful friends we have

5 I’ve got Bob to do more housework, cooking, shopping, gardening

6 He’s planning to stop work soon, so we’ll have more time together – hooray!

7 I’m more aware of what Arnold Bennett called the ‘interestingness’ of life

8 I’m having more time to read good books and enjoying lots of films

9 I’ve realised it’s easier to decide how to spend the next 2 or 3, maybe 5-10 years, than to try to think ahead to 20, 30 or more

10 People in general are very nice to a person with a serious illness!

At last I feel having studied philosophy is of some practical use. Instead of making me see 10 sides to every question it has produced some of the above thoughts plus the reflection that just because you might have preferred a month’s holiday it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a week’s holiday.  And that it’s more sensible not to think, ‘Why me?’ but instead, ‘People get this. Why NOT me?’

There is no bitterness there, on the threshold of certain death: how much more should we honour the one Who has saved us!  I know His favour in so many ways… but more on this in part 3!

About Sally Ann

True-story teller - words and pictures
This entry was posted in Life choices, Quotable quotes, Rejoicing. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to F is for favour (part 2)

  1. Mavis Andradez says:

    Beautifully written Sally Ann. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  2. Ian says:

    great Sally, just great x

  3. Steve says:

    Yes I like this too! Enjoying my grace bank….today!

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