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It’s easy to see the grace of God and be thankful for it in all that is good in our lives. But can we recognize His grace and be thankful in our trials? In the midst of uncertainty and pain? Can we see everything––the good, the bad, and the ugly––all of it, is grace?
Like many of you, my story is not one I would have chosen for myself. For years, I found it difficult to embrace the life I found myself living. But over the course of the last few years, God has opened my eyes to see the thread of grace He had been weaving throughout each and every moment of my life from the beginning. Grace, it turns out, was there all along––through the good and the bad.
Grace was there, guiding me throughout my childhood.
Grace was there, strengthening me through my parents’ divorce.
Grace was there, surrounding and holding me the moment I was told of my dad’s murdered.
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Grace was there, assuring me justice would be served as I sat in a courtroom listening to the defense attorney slander my dad in an attempt to justify murder.
Grace was there, spurring me on toward healing even when this terrible tragedy choked out all that was beautiful in my life.
And grace was there, calming and healing my heart as I tried to move on and live with some semblance of normalcy once again.
Through all, grace was there. And I wasn’t even a Christian yet.
A few days after the murder, I sat next to my soon-to-be husband at a park––reeling and attempting to make sense of my new reality, and I remember thinking about the old adage “everything happens for a reason.” But this tragedy seemed so senseless––so meaningless. “How could there be a reason for this?” I questioned.
It seemed no good could be brought out of such tragedy. And I hesitated to share my story for many years because there was nothing good about my story and because the telling of my story always resulted in awkward obligatory condolences followed by even more awkward silences.
But when Jesus entered into my story––about nine years after Dad died––everything changed. My story became beautiful, as God redeemed what once seemed unredeemable, and I became eager to share my story. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, wanting the world to know who our God is and what He does in the lives of those who walk with Him.
Truly, I have witnessed God do the impossible. I have seen Him work all things for good in my life––as He intends to do in each of our lives––and I am thankful. Thankful beyond words.
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I have seen God heal my wounds and bring me to a place of forgiveness and peace, freeing me to live the life Jesus died for me to have. And I have witnessed God bring the man who murdered my dad to his knees in repentance and set him on a new path, bringing glory to God in prison.
Honestly, I don’t believe it was God’s will for my dad to be murdered. God never wills evil to be done, but He does allow it so He may bring about exponential good. You see, even the evil we experience will ultimately be used in our favor. This, my friend, is grace. Undeserved favor.
Grace is continually weaved throughout the fabric of our lives. For we serve a God who redeems our losses. A God who truly works all things for good for those who know and love Him. A God who knows our pain and purposes at using all of it to our benefit and His glory.
And it turns out, all was grace––all my trials, all my pain were God’s outpouring of grace––and you can rest assured that God will work all things for your good as well. Every trial we go through––every heartache, every pain––is intended for our good. Sure, Satan or other people may intend evil, but what others purpose for evil, God faithfully works for good.
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So, as you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this year, be sure to take inventory of all your blessings––all the grace you’ve been given, including those that are most difficult to bear––knowing you serve a God who is sure to use it all for your good and His glory.
May each of us begin to lay our lives down, allowing Jesus complete access to our pain, that we may see true redemption and experience God’s ever-flowing, ever-increasing flood of grace.
Blessings, my friend. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Laurie Coombs is a writer who encourages others to follow Jesus despite their fears or their feelings of resistance. She lives in Reno, Nevada with her husband, Travis. They have two little girls and are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. To read more about Laurie’s journey toward forgiveness and the redemption she’s experienced, visit LaurieCoombs.org and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Be sure to watch for her upcoming book!