"My job is not to solve
people's problems or make them happy, but to help them
see the grace operating in their lives."
Peterson, Contemplative Pastor
We live in neighborhoods --
families -- racked with conflict and
hardship. Relationships are hard work,
finances are tight, jobs are insecure, and health is
fragile. Facing some of that yourself right
It's natural for us to seek solutions.
We all want peace, prosperity, security, and well-being.
Only masochists could take joy in adversity. Besides,
happiness is our "inalienable right" and we "deserve" the
good life. We may not say it that way, but many
of us think that way.
Problem-solving, therefore, absorbs
enormous amounts of our time and energy. It seems
we are constantly sorting out something, either for
ourselves or for someone else. Just as weeds keep
popping up in the garden, so stresses and difficulties
keep sprouting in our lives.
But does our rush to fix
things blind us to the reality of God's grace in
The stories of the Bible never focus
on painless steps to an easy life. Yes, the
patriarchs had wealth. Yes, Jesus healed various
lepers, beggars, and others. Yes, Paul performed
miracles that dramatically changed people's lives.
However, Scripture always seems to focus on the work of
God and the Presence of God in the midst of our
alienation, affliction, conflict, fear, and
We may look back and acknowledge
the Lord's support once the hardship lies behind
us, but generally the next stress or
strain has already struck and we have little time for
Do we see the grace?
What if our suffering has no end? Do you suppose that God wants
to be with us in a way that does not
involve changing our circumstances but in changing us -- and
doing something in our lives that perhaps we could never
have experienced except for this hardship?
We all embrace the prayer of the Apostle Paul that
we might know the power of Christ's resurrection (Philippians
3:10). Bring on that power! But can we,
will we, also embrace the next two phrases of that same
prayer -- "that I may know the fellowship of His
sufferings, being conformed to His death." Grace abounds in weakness
and desolation. It emerges most forcefully from the
shadows of trials. But will we pause long enough
to recognize and receive it?
Before we leap quickly to solve the
next problem or overcome the next ordeal, we might pray "Lord, let me
see the grace" and look to Him. In the end, our greatest danger
is not divorce, bankruptcy, unemployment, or sickness -- but
spiritual blindness. And those of us who tend
to those who suffer might gently pray this way for them, too.
This opens the door to the cure of
In HOPE -