By Pastor Mike Gudka   St. Paul United Methodist Church, La Porte City

We are going to continue with our journey to understand God’s Grace (G.R.A.C.E. or God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense). The wonderful aspect of Christianity is that it does not ignore the struggles and hurts that are experienced in our lives. And it is important to understand that God does not want us to hurt, get sick, be hurt by others, or experience difficulties in our lives. Instead, these difficulties come out of our fallen world. Our world is broken and our bodies are broken, so we can get in car accidents, experience illnesses, experience addictions, and be hurt by others.
In addition, evil is alive and well in our world for a short period of time. And evil reaches out to tempt us to do the wrong thing. Satan has a way of making the wrong choices look attractive and beautiful in the beginning, but then when we move in that direction the consequences can be devastating. Plus, our own fallen nature can cause us to make the wrong choices and end up in difficult circumstances.
Now for the really good news! Although God does not cause the pain in our lives, He uses it to draw us closer to Him. The way He does this is called Convicting Grace. This is when we are experiencing difficult times in our lives and God uses this to encourage us to reach out to Him. He uses these painful times to push away our pride, our self-reliance, and our reliance on things in this world, so that we become convicted. In other words, we come to the realization that we cannot do this on our own. We come to understand that no matter how hard we try, on our own we always fail. On our own, we can never be truly happy. On our own, the things in this world always fall flat and never bring us real satisfaction.
Now can these difficult times push us away from God? Can we reject God’s attempt to help us see all that He offers? Of course we can. God wants us to truly love Him. And He allows free-will and freedom of choice. But even if we push God away, He never gives up trying to get our attention and call us home as long as we are alive in this world.
So that leads us to the next Grace-filled step in our journey with God. And we will look at this next week.