Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

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December 19, 2021: When Grace Happens

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, NIV).

There are times when believing does not come easy for me, because too many people that I care about hurt too much to let believing come easy. People close to me get cancer and die. My friends’ marriages turn into battlefields. God does not seem to do many miracles for my crowd.

But people in my little orbit are just starters. All those starving children I pray for around the world keep on dying, and the oppressed people I pray for keep getting their heads banged and their freedoms choked. I know we make many of our own miseries. I am only admitting that when I believe that God really cares, there are a lot of hurts that suggest He does not seem to care enough.

Believing sneaks into my heart when my mind says, “God, where were you when I needed you?” I’m speaking about really believing, the kind you do with your deepest self, down where your deepest feelings flow. These are the feelings that push my life toward joy or misery—feelings of the heart, the window of my being, where I am open to God.

That’s when I rediscover grace. Grace happens when I feel a surge of honest joy that makes me glad to be alive in spite of valid reasons for feeling terrible. It happens when grace tells me I can be sure that my future is going to turn out better than I dare imagine. Grace gives me hope, and it happens on many layers of my life.

Please Lord, when we deeply feel that life is all wrong, help us to overcome our unbelief and really believe that your grace can make it all right. Amen.

Rob Vandeman retired from the Columbia Union Conference after nearly 50 years as a pastor and administrator.