Grace that hurts


Previous thoughts of mine inspired by Grace Kelly.

“The gratuity of creation is the grace of the gospel. But you only get that kind of absolute gratuity if God is, correspondingly, absolutely full. And grace that is this gracious, absolutely gracious, is hard because we want to be needed, not just wanted. But the only kind of wanting we know (despairing creatures that we are) is that wanting which is needing. That’s how we want. Imagine the existential rush that follows from believing that God wants you this way, i.e., because your existence fulfills him. Your existence can’t mean anything better than that! And so we weave into our narratives of redemption the fiction that God must be lonely without us, or diminished by our sorrow, or injured by our rejection, or ultimately perfected by our final glorification. But in recognizing God as a delighting love we can neither diminish nor improve, these self-serving dysfunctions and narratives are deconstructed and in their place we experience ‘his joy as our strength’ (Neh. 8.10) and come to possess ourselves in ‘an unspeakable and glorious joy’ as Peter wrote (1Pet. 1.8), ‘receiving the salvation of our souls’.”

Prayer: “O Lord my God, make me submissive without protest, poor without discouragement, [faithful] without regret, patient without complaint, humble without posturing, cheerful without frivolity, mature without gloom, and quick-witted without flippancy.” (Thomas Aquinas)

7 comments on “Grace that hurts

  1. Tom Torbeyns says:

    I don’t get it. In simple language please? 🙂


    • Tom says:

      Hi Tom,

      I’m sorry it’s unclear for you. I’ll try to boil it down.

      First, the triune relations—Father, Son, Spirit—don’t depend upon the world. And those relations constitute an experienced oneness which is what we mean when we say ‘God is love’. The experienced unity of Father, Son, and Spirit is the truth, beauty, and goodness of God’s very being, and that divine experience is undiminished by the world.

      Second, such divine happiness is hard for many to accept. It’s hard to accept the idea that God’s happiness doesn’t depend upon us, that ‘how happy God essentially is’ isn’t up to us to decide, that while I’m hurting at the loss of my grandson, God doesn’t also ‘take a hit’ and suffer some measurable diminishment of happiness inside his insides. But many prefer a God determined by our pain on every conceivable level. This narrative (that God is the truth of our pain) is, many believe, what saves and heal us.

      Contrary to this narrative, I believe that God’s essential triune beatitude (beatitude = experienced beauty)—God’s essential happiness, if you will—is not at stake in the world’s despair and pain, that his happiness is our highest good, the end for which we were created, and that God’s unchanging beatitude is an ever-present source of mental and spiritual healing and restoration in a fallen world.

      Hope that helps.



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