Sara Groves, a favorite artist of ours, has a song on one of her albums that talks about grace. Specifically, she says that “this is grace—an invitation to beautiful.” The song, Add to the Beauty, goes on to talk about the places of grace, oftentimes places we wouldn’t expect to be grace-places, but they are there and God uses them as places of redemption where we wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be. And so our role in these places is to receive the grace that God gives.
I’m intrigued by this concept, and yet as I look at my own life, I can look at the hard places in my own experience and see that they were more often than not places of grace. Places where God reached into my misery or frustration or anger or pain and did something with that situation to bring about His plan. Christians serve a God of redemption, and yet He is also a God of the weird.
While this is strange, it’s the way the Lord has used the pain in this world for millennia past, present and—we could assume—future. The prophet Isaiah spoke of a time when God would redeem all peoples during His year of favor. Then, He would “provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” These, God says, will be called “oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”
While I long to be an oak of righteousness, I sometimes wish that ashes, mourning and despair were not the way to get there. Still, are not these the people we long to be? Aren’t these the people we see as being close to God. Consider one young Dutch girl’s captivity by her Nazi-occupied government that would lead to her imprisonment as well as her future ministry to promote peace and the Good News of Jesus. Or someone I know who went through a terrible divorce years ago and now has a thriving grassroots ministry to those in similar situations.
God’s ways are strange, yet holy. Whatever our own situation, wherever we find ourselves—may each of us drink more deeply of the God Who Is and plant the roots of our being in Him to display His splendor and find ourselves made more whole by His grace.