Have you ever had the painful experience of breaking a bone? Perhaps even more distressing is having to watch a young child break a bone.
As somewhat educated human beings, we’re able to understand why our bodies ache and what the doctors are trying to accomplish. Even if we don’t have a medical degree, we have a foundational awareness of the healing process.
For a young child, however, the physical pain might compound itself with the pain of confusion and unfamiliarity. “Why does my body feel this way? How long will this pain last? What is this machine they’re putting me through? Why are they putting a hard cast on my body?”
In the same way, many of us struggle with confusion and unfamiliarity when we experience spiritual pain. Regardless of age or length of time walking with the Lord, recognizing, accepting, and then rejoicing over uncomfortable, violent grace is unnatural.
What is uncomfortable, violent grace? David writes about it in Psalm 51:8 - “Let the bones that you have broken rejoice.” It’s a curious phrase. Crushed bones and rejoicing don’t seem to go together. We surely don’t celebrate when we break our bodies.
But David is using the agony of broken bones as a metaphor for the anguish of heart he feels when he sees his sin for what it is. That uncomfortable, violent pain is a good thing.
The physical ache of an actual broken bone is worth being thankful for because it’s a warning sign something is wrong in that arm or leg. In the same way, God’s loving hammer of conviction is meant to break your heart, and the pain of heart you feel is intended to alert you to the fact that something is spiritually wrong inside you. Like the warning signal of physical pain, the rescuing and restoring pain of convicting grace is a thing worth celebrating.
We all have a stubborn capacity to be comfortable with what God says is wrong, so God blesses us with uncomfortable, violent grace. Yes, he loves us enough to crush us, so that we would feel the pain of our sin and run to him for forgiveness and deliverance.
Just like young children need to be taught about the anatomy of their body, the role of a doctor, and the purpose of an X-ray when they have broken a bone, we would do well to remind ourselves of the theology of uncomfortable, violent grace.
Our relationship with the Lord is never anything other than a relationship of grace. It’s grace that brought us into his family, it’s grace that keeps us in it, and it’s grace that will continue us in it forever.
But the grace God lavishes is not always comfortable.
God’s grace isn’t always comfortable because he isn’t primarily working on our comfort; he’s working on our character. With loving violence, he will crush us because he loves us and is committed to our restoration, deliverance, and refinement.
That’s something worth celebrating.
Paul David Tripp
- Are you allowing yourself to grow comfortable with something that God says is wrong? What justifications are you making in your heart or mind to permit yourself to be okay with that sin?
- What evidence can you find - both in the Bible and from everyday life - to remind yourself that staying inside God’s wise boundaries is the safest place to be?
- Is there a place in your life where you have been tempted to doubt God’s love because you are experiencing the pain of his rescuing and restoring grace? Why should you thank him for uncomfortable, violent grace?
- How can you lovingly and graciously remind others of God’s uncomfortable, violent grace that rescues us from us?