Grace When It's Hard
I was at lunch recently with some friends enjoying a conversation with everyone as we waited on our food. The delicious food was brought to the table but one of the dishes was taking longer than anticipated. The friend who had ordered this side was incredibly rude to the waitress, even though she was being extremely apologetic for the wait and even offered a substitute dish. I watched the waitress sink down as this friend spoke rudely to her, and I couldn't help but think about the fact that just moments before, the waitress saw us holding hands and praying over our meal.
The food was taking an extra long time -- but that was not this waitress' fault - and she didn't deserve to be spoken to so poorly by my friend. It made me wonder how often our actions misalign with our words - or vice versa. How often do we say we love Jesus one moment only to act in the flesh the next? I know I'm guilty of it too, so I'm not just pointing fingers here at my friend since there would be four fingers pointing back at me. But as I observed the scene unfolding from a distance, I wanted to stand up and give the poor waitress a hug.
It made me ask, what would it look like to extend grace to those around us, even when it's hard and we're frustrated and they've wronged us? What would it look like to show grace when we have to wait an inordinate amount of time or the wrong meal gets brought out or we get let down by someone? What would it look like to extend mercy, even if the other person isn't being as apologetic and kind as this sweet waitress was being? What about when we don't feel well or didn't sleep good or got into an argument with our husband and we don't have a lot of kindness overflowing from our heart?
I think Jesus set an example for us in this time and time again. In Matthew 18 we see an example of grace and forgiveness that shocked the disciples. Peter asked the Lord, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). Jesus responded with an answer that far exceeded Peter's most audacious offering of seven times: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:22).
Seventy-seven times. Some translations read "seventy times seven", but the idea here is that as many times as you are wronged - so forgive. Because there is no end to the forgiveness we receive from the Lord. God has given us grace in our sin, overwritten our wrongdoings with His mercy and perfection, and then called us to turn and extend that same grace to others.
So when it's hard, when you've had an awful morning, when you're tired and the coffee was out and the milk had gone bad and the kids won't stop whining and you have every "reason" to be snappy or rude - let's remember this passage from the Father Himself. Let's pause and pray for a change of heart. Let's pray for grace before responding. Then let's extend mercy in the same way we've been given it day in and day out. That's grace upon amazing grace!