Shielded by Grace


My family and I are very thankful for the encouraging reports of prayer being offered for my son and us from around the world. I think I have received notes from folks on almost every continent expressing their concern and assuring us of intercession being made for us. We have seen God’s hand in this and are grateful beyond words. Derek came home from the hospital this past Saturday, but still has a lot of healing up to do. An 80,000 pound truck doing 55 mph can do a lot of damage to your body, so it is quite amazing that he is doing as well as he is. There are still issues, but it looks like his body is healing up well.

Times like this, at least for me, lead to a lot of wrestling with how to communicate effectively what we know and believe as it is fleshed out in our experience. One phrase that I have used regularly is that “God graciously protected my son’s life.” I am not sure what others are thinking when they hear the word “graciously” in that statement. What I mean by it is that God did something for him and us that we don’t deserve. God showed him and us grace in how He protected him from far greater injury, and He especially showed grace to us in sparing his life.

It is gracious precisely because it came from God freely. He was not obligated to protect him in this way. Derek’s life is God’s, bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, so He has the right to use Derek in whatever way He deems right. If He had permitted his life to end or to face far graver injury, there would be no wrong in God for allowing it. There is nothing in us that deserved some better outcome than others have experienced. It is foolishness, biblically and theologically, to think this outcome is tied in some way to some merit in my son or our family. Why does Peter walk out of jail, but James gets beheaded? Not because Peter deserved it and James didn’t. God simply had different plans for their lives. The Sovereign Lord wanted to magnify His own name through the martyrdom of one and the continued ministry of the other.

I have to admit that I flinch a little when I magnify God’s kindness to us in this circumstance precisely because I know godly people who have faced similar circumstances and their child didn’t survive or experienced more permanent damage. What caused the difference between the outcomes? The sovereign hand of God, not any worthiness or merit in my son or us. Just like with Peter and James, God has different plans for magnifying Himself for different individuals and families.

The fact is that God is in control of all things, so that means He could have prevented the truck from hitting my son altogether had He so chosen. He didn’t because He has something that He wants to accomplish in Derek’s life (and our family’s and among those around Derek’s life). But please don’t assign grandiose meaning to those words “He has something He wants to accomplish in Derek’s life”–I mean simply that this very trial Derek is experiencing is another opportunity for him (and those around him) to grow in grace and serve Christ.

Surviving this accident is not some heavenly sign of future greatness. He’s alive today because of God’s grace, but here’s the newsflash–so are you. That one person survives and another doesn’t means that God’s plan for the one’s life was complete and the other’s isn’t. The difference is in God’s will, not the value or merit of the people.

So, I live feeling the tension that we are to rejoice in God’s kindness and mercy that has been graciously provided, but we must do so in a way that recognizes that God has not in any way been unkind, merciless, or lacked grace toward those for whom He had different plans. Since the outcomes were not based in the merit of the recipient, but in the sovereign plan for the God who can be trusted, we bow the knee in worship regardless of outcome. He knows and does what is best for His own glory and the good of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. SDG.

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