Grace in the Process
by Mike and Anne Rizzo
This blog contains information about COVID-19 accurate to the best of the author’s knowledge at the time of writing. We understand that statistics are always changing in regards to this pandemic.
In ordinary times, grace in the process of life can be challenging. Personally, I don’t like disruptions or having to wait on God for answers to prayer. But having been a disciple of Jesus for 45 years, I’ve at least matured enough to know the value of partnering with God in my transformation.
Perhaps the most well-known treatise on this is found in the book of James.
When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete needing nothing. (James 1:2–4 NLT)
Lacking nothing or “needing nothing” sounds like a great deal, right? But it doesn’t mean that I will receive all that I desire at the moment. For example, this Coronavirus has shut down the gym where I work out. I am lacking something, and at first I felt offended at the “overkill” response by my local community center. Sounds silly as I write it now, a few days later. But there is grace in the process for this minor speed bump. Yes, I’m lacking the physical ability to work out, but I’m receiving from God to the point of not lacking anything. He fills the voids in our lives with His presence.
In comparison, where I live (US) there have been a little over 200 deaths related to Coronavirus; mainly concentrated in three states (WA, CA, NY). I have friends that live in these places and have empathy for them. While in Italy there are over 3,400 related deaths, mainly occurring in small towns in the north. Crematoria have been operating around the clock and mortuaries are being used to store coffins as funeral services have been banned. Wow, what a contrast to my small suffering! My gym is closed versus not being able to gather to grieve the loss of a loved one. We pray grace in the process, for you, Italy.
Road to Completion
“Process can be a troublesome thing. It disrupts us and disorients us, and we would much rather skip to the end. But to live true, we must allow process to run its course.”* The author of this quote is writing about the danger of “premature resolution” in the day to day of our spiritual pilgrimage. Even Jesus was tempted in this manner when the road of obedience was overwhelming. Our saving grace is the cross of Christ. The road to its completion was paved with suffering and sacrifice.
‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’ Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, ‘Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!’ Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, ‘My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.’ When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Matthew 6:38–44
Another gospel account adds that an answer from heaven arrived.
Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. (Luke 22:43-44, NLT)
Not only that, but Jesus gives us further insight.
Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now? (Matthew 26:53–54, NLT)
Praying More Fervently
Let me clarify: we are all tempted, as was Jesus, to look for alternative solutions to our suffering. Whether a health pandemic, financial hardship, broken relationship, or a wilderness of encounter that feels more like wilderness than encounter, we need grace in the process. Jesus was strengthened and was able to pray more fervently. He resisted a premature resolution that would have diverted Him from His destiny. Our lives have a course setting, presided over by the Alpha and Omega.
I do not want my immediate comfort to trump the process of a richer fruit down the path, the fruit of “lacking nothing.”
Coronavirus has hit the heart of our entitlement culture. But that’s too narrow of a view to really be comprehensive. These extraordinary times in my world are more ordinary and normal for millions of my fellow saints around the globe. Social distancing, gym closure, hiccups to vacation planning, toilet paper shortage—these are depriving me of my rights and privileges. I must stop and reflect on the reality that millions have never even had the privileges that I do to even know what it’s like to be deprived of them.
However your endurance is being developed in these trying times, let it grow to full development and reap the rewards sure to come: needing nothing. In the meantime, Jesus is the same today as He was with His disciples. “Then he came to the disciples and said, ‘Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come'” (Matthew 26:45 NLT). This is the most accurate translation from Greek. It reflects the urgency of the hour, calling me to the front lines of intercession. It also reflects the empathetic heart of Christ, who knows my frailty and always makes available grace for the process.
*Chole, Alicia Britt. 2016. 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast. Thomas Nelson Inc.
Where do you need grace in light of the coronavirus?
Gain strength and courage (and answers) from Mike Bickle to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Watch his recent “fireside chat” message to the global Body of Christ here.
Mike and Anne Rizzo
- Directors of Marriage and Family Ministries
Mike and Anne Rizzo have been in pastoral ministry for over 35 years and currently serve as directors of Marriage and Family Ministries at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. They carry a passion for personal mentoring, teaching, and raising up marriages that exalt the name of Jesus. Mike and Anne have three grown children and two grandchildren, and are the authors of Vertical Marriage: A Godward Preparation for Life Together and Longing for Eden: Embracing God’s Vision in Your Marriage.