We urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.” God does not promise that our lives will be easy, only that they will be blessed. Afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, riots should not surprise us or discourage us. They become the occasions for putting our faith to work. Just as the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness to put his faith into practice under difficult circumstances, so too God raises us up in faith in order to walk into the lions’ den.
Don’t receive God’s grace in vain. Don’t give up on grace in times of trial. God’s grace exists for the trials. Put God’s grace to work in those times. This understanding is the great paradox of Jesus Christ.
Appearances may deceive. What we feel may not reflect reality. Trouble may be blessing. Despair may bear seeds of hope. An empty vessel may contain all we need for abundant life. The desert may blossom. Death may give way to life unexpectedly, impossibly.
As a young mother and pastor, one Holy Week I was telling my young son the story of the passion of Jesus. When I got through Jesus’ death on Good Friday, I moved on to tell how on Sunday he rose from the grave and lived again. My son almost jumped out of my lap. His eyes sparkled as he shouted with glee, “He tricked them, didn’t he? He really tricked them!”
Jesus “tricks” people every day, not just Easter Sunday. He connects us to a deep river of living water that makes sorrow flee away. Taste and see that God is good. God’s steadfast love endures forever. If we keep silent, the stones will shout out this great good news.

Resurrecting God, give us eyes to see your blessing all around us and courage to live abundant life even in the midst of great distress. Amen.

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