Recently I have been lamenting [and what an apt word that is] the deep pain and hurt I have caused in someone’s life. The damage rose out of my selfishness which, like ordinary mold, comes in thousands upon thousands of varieties. In its myriad forms, my selfishness generates both sins of commission and sins of omission. On a daily basis, I caused hurt by my unloving actions as much as by my unloving failure to act.
This morning as I lamented, I turned to the day’s entry in “God the Enough”, a little devotional guide by Selwyn Hughes. There was God’s incredible response to my lament:
But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21
Hughes goes on to ask:
“Is there enough grace in the heart of God to meet and overcome the difficulties created by evil?”
That is a question I have been wrestling with on a personal level. Is there enough grace to meet the difficulties of *my* evil?
The answer is “Yes, in Christ.” And three weeks into Lent seems a good time to ponder how God brought this grace into our world. Hughes explains it like this:
“Sin is without a doubt the biggest problem God has ever had to deal with. When we read the four gospels we see something of the pain God has gone through in order to defeat sin and its consequences. They spell out in terms that are crystal clear how much anguish sin brought to the heart of the Deity. The theologian Martin Kahler worded it like this: ‘The four Gospels are shaped as passion narratives with long introductions. At the heart of each Gospel is a pool of pain.’
Throughout the centuries, Christians have always evaluated the horror of sin by the suffering needed to atone for it. Cornelius Plantinga, in his book Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, spells out the issue in these poignant words:
‘The ripping and writhing of a body on a cross, the bizarre metaphysical maneuver of using death to defeat death, the urgency of the summons to human beings to ally themselves with the events of Christ and with the Person of those events, and then to make that Person and those events the center of their lives—these tell us the main human trouble is desperately difficult to fix, even for God, and that sin is the longest running of all human emergencies.’”
I was struck by the idea that sin is not just my problem, it is God’s problem too. I think I’ve viewed my sin akin to losing at musical chairs. I tried, I failed, and I had to leave the game.
But God viewed my wrongdoing [and everyone else’s] as a problem for Himself. Not only did I suffer the loss of His fellowship, He suffered the loss of mine because the loss brought on by sin goes both ways.
His love for me is not all about me. It’s about Him. Why else would He want to make things right again? Only Love would be willing to sacrifice in order to rescue the lost beloved.
This brings me back to my lament. I see that God is able to sympathize with my sorrow over sin because He also experienced this. But His “pain of searing loss” was on a different level. His sorrow over the suffering of Jesus was pure, undeserved, gracious. He knew beforehand how exquisitely painful the experience would be, yet He was still willing to endure it. Not only for my sake, but also for His.
I am more than ever in awe of His amazing, holy love for me. For this love generates grace abounding, grace all-sufficient, grace increasing without end. Amen.