Last night I had the privilege of being with a group of people who showed me astonishing examples of grace under fire. It was a group who were hurt by fellow brothers and sisters in the past. We gathered to process the pain and to explore pathways toward health. And as I listened, I was struck by the awesome reality of God’s healing presence.
The tough reality is that everyone is broken, and broken, hurting people break and hurt the relationships they have with others. The good-news reality is that God restores broken relationships, and, even more, takes all that is unfair and unrighteous, and will, as my wife says “use it as compost to grow goodness.” I love that image.
What most impressed me last night was the gift this group gave to the church in the midst of conflict in the past. People misunderstood them, got angry with them, and hurt them. But they stayed put, and they did not retaliate, or defend themselves against misunderstandings. They did not bolt, but they hung in there, while suffering from the blows of the people they were called to serve. And now their sacrifice is the soil for God’s growth and goodness in many, many ways.
Perseverance is a gift we give when the heat of conflict gets turned up. It’s a gift spouses give in marriage, and parents give to children, and leaders give to the church. And it’s given in the hope that God will, in God’s good time, creatively weave evil into a tapestry of grace that reveals his goodness in the most beautiful ways.
That’s more than solid, biblical theology. That’s reality. And I saw this played out in living color last night as people expressed their honest response to God’s healing movement. And I continue to see it played out in the church I serve. And it’s beautiful to behold.
Side-note: This Sunday I’ll speak about how to offer the gift of forgiveness, and find freedom from the toxins of bitterness, anger and resentment after someone hurts us. If you’re in the area, I hope to see you at Redwood Covenant this Sunday.