The Healing Power of Grace
I rarely get sick. Whether it is a result of clean living (I strongly doubt that) or good genes (that’s possible), I go through most years unscathed from the swarm of flu viruses and bugs floating around me.
Well, since Friday, January 17, I can’t make that claim anymore, because that evening I was exhibiting all the classic signs of the flu:
- Feverish chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Deep fatigue
Judith wanted me to go to the doctor the very next day. And what do you think most men like me say when their wives encourage them to see the doctor? That’s right — I said, “I am fine. My body is fighting something, but I will be fine.”
In a sense, I was correct. By the middle of the following week, the fever and chills were basically gone, and I was making plans to get back to work. But that didn’t happen. A new set of problems started affecting me. I was experiencing headaches, pain behind my eyes, weakness, joint pain.
Guess what Judith said? “Let’s get you to the doctor.”
Once again, my response was irrational overconfidence in my ability to cure myself. But, whereas the flu dissipated and left my body, this new round of illness got worse with each day.
Finally, I humbled myself and admitted to Judith that I was not getting better. We called the doctor and he was willing to see me. The doctor concluded that I was suffering from a severe sinus infection. He wrote out two prescriptions — one for antibiotics — to attack this lingering malady.
With two doses of antibiotics in my body, I started feeling better. I wasn’t healed, but I started believing that I would live and not die.
The next day, I apologized to Judith for being stubborn and foolish in thinking that my previous healthy ways were enough to stave off my disease. A “flu prisoner” in my home for 10 days, I had lots of time to think about the futility of trying to handle my sickness without help from Judith, or a doctor, or prescription medicines — which is actually a perfect picture of how I sometimes relate to God.
Part of the common lie I tend to believe is that I am basically a good Christian. I magnify my good works, my so-called “good reputation,” and convince myself that I am not that bad. I evaluate myself based on how others are doing.
This attitude is what Scripture calls pride. Pride blinds us to our true condition. Others see us, God sees us, but we cannot see ourselves. What we see of ourselves is distorted by our pride. By the way, this works in the other direction, too, with the terrible shadows of shame.
Too often filled with pride, I convince myself that I don’t need God’s strong direction in my life. Filled with pride, I make decisions based on my intellect instead of God’s wisdom. Filled with pride, I am slow to see my faults while quick to see the faults of others. In other words, pride causes me to downplay my soul sickness. The longer I stay with this sick mindset, the more harm I bring to myself and others.
This Sunday in church we will read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12. The Beatitudes give a no-confidence vote to our ability to live the blessed life.
Newton’s second law of motion is one of the most important laws I learned in high school physics. Sir Isaac Newtown determined that objects can only accelerate if there are forces acting on the object.
Similarly, the Beatitudes are God’s spiritual physics or laws describing the force that moves disciples to inhabit and move through time and space. What moves Christians to be poor in spirit, to mourn, be meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, be a peacemaker, show mercy, be pure in heart, rejoice in persecution is all Grace, not human ability. To heal, we must open ourselves up completely to our dependence on that Grace.
During February, we will spend time reading Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and discover the force that enables Christians to fully move and live healthy lives in this world. I hope you will join us this Sunday.
Humbled by the power of Grace,
Pastor Ray Hylton