Do you feel afraid or insecure? It’s difficult not to be after the past year. A global pandemic, social and political turmoil, economic uncertainty, scandals and confusion in the Church, etc….need we go on? Thank God for his grace, which is still amazing! First, last and always, we need and we have God’s grace. As the converted slave trader, John Newton, wrote:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
WHO WAS JOHN NEWTON?
Newton lived in 18th century England, was active in the slave trade, and led a very rough and dissolute life. At one point, he was actually captured and reduced to slavery himself. Newton described himself as “an infidel and a libertine.” After a somewhat gradual conversion to Christianity, he became a lay minister and, eventually, an Anglican clergyman. He composed many hymns – among them, “Amazing Grace” – after personally experiencing God’s amazing grace at work in his own life. He knew first-hand the power of God’s overwhelming grace!
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God – not because of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). It is good to be reminded that we could not save ourselves from original sin. Nor can we hope to save ourselves from the current crises we face. It has to be only through God’s amazing grace.
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed.
“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:1-5). What a passage!
These days “access” is a very important concept. In order to gain access, we need the proper ID, password, background checks, etc. It is Jesus who provides us with complete access to God’s saving grace. Not only can we rejoice in hope, but we can rejoice in our sufferings, because they will eventually lead us to hope.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
We have already come;
Twas grace that brought us safe thus far,
And grace will lead us home.
“We know that God makes all things work together unto good for those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). We have the promise and guarantee that, if we love him, God will make all things work together unto good for us. With God’s grace and the power that comes from his Holy Spirit, we need to hold on, to keep going, to stand fast, to persevere.
The Greek word for perseverance in Scripture is hypomone, which means to keep standing under a heavy load. In more colloquial terms, we need to “hang in there,” as the Lord helps us by his grace. We need to know and rely on God’s word in order to keep going.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
When going through rough times, it’s all the more necessary to keep our goal in view, to keep “our eyes on the prize.” Our goal is the Lord himself, and life with him on high in the heavenly kingdom. “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (Heb. 13:14). We yearn for that heavenly city with the Lord!
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
THANK GOD FOR HIS AMAZING GRACE!
We also thank God for the one who is called “full of grace,” and the Mediatrix of All Graces – the Blessed Virgin Mary, the holy Mother of God and our Mother. She is Our Lady of Grace, whose outstretched arms are filled with graces for the asking. Let us ask for them!
Find a time this month in your prayer group, or alone, to sing and reflect on this beautiful hymn, born out of much suffering and anguish. God’s grace conquers all! “Where sin abounds, grace abounds still more”(Rom. 5:20).
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun;
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
Than when we’d first begun.