Days Without Grace


She was being interviewed on National Public Radio (NPR). An American actress playing the mother of a special needs child in a new play from London now touring the USA. The play is getting rave reviews as it explores the inner workings of a 15-year-old boy whose parents love, but can’t touch because of his relational/physical/social discombobulation.

I have forgotten her name and the name of the play, and the director’s name (who I do remember also directed/produced the play, “War Horse”), but she used a phrase that I haven’t been able to forget. She was speaking of those times in a mother’s life (a father’s life too) when a parent seems, . . .  overwhelmed.

When it seems that nothing you do is right
Nothing you think is quite enough
Nothing you can say is said right
Nothing you can do is going to protect your son or your daughter
Those times when you can’t help
Those times when you are completely spent
When you feel that there just isn’t enough of you
When you feel that you are not enough
That your family would be better off without you
When you are completely beside yourself with a combination of sorrow and frustration, and anxiety and the deepening darkness chokes all hope from your soul.

“Parenting”, said a famous counselor, “is not for cowards.”

Maybe not, but that is how we parents feel sometimes.

“Those days,” she said, “those days that are days without grace.”

gracelessHave you been there in one of those graceless feeling days?

I have.

Too often to recount. So often, it might shock everyone who knows me.
And the chances are high, that if you are a parent, you have been there too.

You have been in that place where grace, unmerited favor, seemed as far away as Jupiter.


Like, the end of the Hubble telescope’s ability to see farther.

It is crushing to feel that way. It is a soul-crushing, tear-dripping, sorrow-without-light, unadulterated pain to feel that way.

And yet,
if we are Christ followers,
it is not true.

It is real, all too real, but it is not true.

It can paralyze us. It can consume us. It can threaten to completely undo us.

But if we are part of God’s family (John 1:12), if we have received the Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15), if we have been purchased by the blood of a sinless Savior (Acts 20:28: 1 Corinthians 6:19), if we have been sealed by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), if we have become inheritors of the promises of God (Ephesians 1:11) there is never a graceless day, never a moment when we are abandoned, never a millisecond that we are without hope, or light, or direction (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).

It just feels that way sometimes.

And those “sometimes” are when you need the word of God hidden in your heart (Psalm 119:11). Those “sometimes” are when you need a deep pattern of significant meditation in the heart of the gospel and the greatness of what it means to belong to Christ (Psalm 119:9-10). Those are the times when you need the word of Christ to “dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16) so that the world, and you too, will see the beauty of Christ and promises of God as your strong tower and the place you can run to for rescue. 

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