I don’t know if grace has a theme song but if it does it must be “Bridge over Troubled Water.” Simon and Garfunkle sing, “When you’re weary, feeling small / When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all / I’m on your side, Oh, when times get rough / And friends just can’t be found / Like a bridge over troubled water / I will lay me down.”
Weary, feeling small, tears, rough times, no friends—I’ve been there, done that. And sometimes I’m there doing that because of self-inflicted wounds. I’m there because of my own foolishness, fickleness, and failure.
When I’m there I need a bridge over these troubled waters. Praise God, I have one. Grace. God’s willingness through Jesus to forgive me and help me no matter where I am is always on my side. That’s what the Lord’s assuring us when he says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
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Cross the Bridge
We always need to remember that grace is always on our side. But there are three times when we have a special need of remembering this. Maybe you’re in one of these times now. If so, I gladly remind you that grace is always on your side.
1. One time we have a special need to remember that grace is always on our side is when we’re hindered from praying because we’ve been neglecting prayer.
You know the drill. For whatever reason, you neglect the throne of grace the way men refuse to go to a doctor. Then you suddenly need the Lord’s help as desperately as Peter when he started sinking in the Sea of Galilee. But unlike Peter, you don’t cry, “Help, Lord!” Why not? Well, you say, God will treat my prayers the way I treat a telemarketer’s call because I haven’t prayed in days. Troubled water, huh? But there’s a bridge over it. Grace is on your side. Grace reminds you that your access to God doesn’t come from your track record of praying consistently. It comes from the blood of Jesus. His blood gives you “boldness and access with confidence” 24/7 (Ephesians 3:12).
Cross the bridge. Pray!
2. A second time we have a special need to remember that grace is always on our side is when we’re hesitant to confess a sin because we don’t feel sorry enough for it.
I say with shame that I know what it is to be as coldhearted about a sin as a serial murderer about his crimes. How about you? And if you’re like me, it’s easy to let that lack of sorrow make you feel it would be hypocrisy to ask the Lord for forgiveness. So we walk around with the pain of unrelieved guilt. Troubled water, huh? But there’s a bridge over it. Grace is on your side. Grace reminds you that forgiveness isn’t based on the pain you feel for your sin now but the pain Jesus felt for it at Calvary. His blood brings cleansing “from all sin” the moment you confess, even when you don’t feel as sorry for that sin as you should (1 John 1:9).
Cross the bridge. Confess!
3. A third time we have a special need to remember that grace is always on our side is when we’re in a self-made mess.
You do something off the charts foolish or have a monumental failure. Like Abraham when he lied about Sarah or Jonah when he rebelled against going to Nineveh or Peter when he denied Jesus. And you think God’s attitude is “Well, you’ve made your bed now sleep in it.” So, you join bald Samson and begin grinding in the Philistine mill of hopelessness. Troubled water, huh? But there’s a bridge over it. Grace is on your side. Grace urges you not to grieve as those who have no hope. Grace assures you that the God who brought good to Abraham in his self-made mess, and to Jonah in his self-made mess, and to Peter in his self-made mess is equally willing and able to bring you good in your self-made mess. That’s what Romans 8:28 is all about! Yes, it might take time and involve a lot of pain but the Great Physician never loses a patient to the disease of a self-made mess. The death of Jesus assures you that wherever you are in your story you can trust that God will give you grace so you can give him glory (Romans 8:32).
Cross the bridge. Trust!
You should be a Grace-Focused Optimist even in troubled waters because there’s a bridge over them.
Grace is ALWAYS on your side!