Philip Yancey in his book, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference? relates the story of a man he calls Mark. “I have suffered from a very serious emotional condition all of my adult life – boarder line personality disorder – with the attendant depression, extreme anxiety, and debilitating physical symptoms. In way of explanation, and not blame, during the first years of my life I was subject of very serious sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of my mother.”
“I suppose my question is: what is the heavenly reward for those of us who are not laboring in God’s fields in the inner city? Or who struggle daily with pornography, where a major breakthrough is a day not on the Internet. Or who at the height of our recovery may be 10 percent of the moral character of the average unbeliever. Does one have to be a healthy Christian servant to receive God’s grace?” (p. 30)
What is sad about this question is that Mark has to even ask? Somewhere along the line Mark came to believe that people who struggle with problems or who have gone through horrific circumstances are somehow less in God’s eyes than other Christians. We as the church need to hang our head in shame at some of the harmful and sadistic teachings that have flowed out of our pulpits to beat down broken and discouraged people who are struggling for hope and assurance. No matter how saintly a Christian is they have no greater claims on the grace of God than Mark. We are all sinners and in need of the grace of God that washes away our sins through the blood of the cross.
In Jesus day it was the prostitute, the woman who had had multiple husbands, the tax collectors, and even a thief on a cross who experienced the blessings of God’s grace flowing over their hearts. The religious leaders missed out on this blessing of grace because they thought their position and piety assured them of all God’s blessings.
No matter where we have been, what we have done God never abandons us. We might fall as far as it seems possible to fall, but God is always there to stretch out a saving hand for whoever will take it. It seems that the more broken the person, the more grace abounds. Moses kills a man in a rage but He becomes God’s man to lead the Children of Israel out of bondage and into the Promised land. David, Manasseh, Peter, and Abraham all felt the depths of pain that Mark was experiencing, but the God of Heaven and Earth reached out His nail scared hand to touch their lives.
Peter, when Jesus needed him most, denied Him three times, yet God never wrote Peter off or abandoned him. That’s why these words of Peter have such power, “God opposes the proud, but gives Grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety unto Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5: 5-6
To humble yourself is to come to God with an open heart and confess your need of His love, peace and grace. If you will do that, then He will lift you up, “in due time.” We can cast our cares upon Him because He loves us. All it takes is to say, “here I am God.”