Hi everyone. Rob here.
One of our biggest frustrations in life is that people don’t do what we want them to do when we want them to do it. There’s also no doubt that you too are one of those people, just as I am. We let each other down in big ways and small ways all the time. Often that’s because our expectations have never been spoken. We often think that what’s important to us is important to someone else and so it will just get done. But, of course, life just doesn’t work out that way. People have different priorities, face different pressures, see life in a different way. Ironically, our expectations of God are often far lower than for people. Why is that? How can we turn that around?
I believe it’s all to do with grace. Seeing life and people through the eyes of God’s grace is a liberating experience. We see this in the way Jesus looked at his disciple Peter. At the last supper before his death Jesus promises the disciples a kingdom and then he addresses Peter:
Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:31-32).
Peter’s response to this was to say, “Lord I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus’ response is to say that Peter will deny Jesus 3 times that night. The grace of Jesus was to know Peter’s limitations. He knew that the testing of that night would be too much for a man who couldn’t see his need for supernatural courage in a time of trial. His promise was that Peter would turn back and his faith would not ultimately fail. Jesus knew that his friends would let him down that night but he also knew that God was big enough and gracious enough to restore them.
Jesus knew that his disciples would fail but he trusted that the story would still end well. He knew that God’s will would be done despite their failure. He also knew that God would take that failure and redeem it so thoroughly that the disciples would come out stronger and more faithful than before. He was gracious with Peter because his ultimate trust was in God and his goodness.
The response of grace is to accept people’s limitations, including our own, even as we fully trust God with our lives and theirs. It is to know that God redeems failure and even uses it for a greater good. In essence it is to trust God more than people because our own experience of grace tells us unequivocally that God is working all things for good in our life and in the world.
When people let us down it sometimes feels like God is letting us down. What Jesus shows us is that when people let us down we need to deepen our trust in God even more. When people let us down we need to turn to God’s goodness and rest in his grace. We are always his children, always loved, always accepted. No person can take that away from us. As we rest in God we need to ask for his eyes to see others because he loves them in the same way that he loves us. We are to love our neighbour even as they don’t do what we want them to do. That is grace. We have received it so we are asked to give it. God’s Holy Spirit will help us as we turn to him.
May the grace and love you have received flow freely from you to others this week and may your trust in God’s goodness deepen and grow.