Unmet expectations can foster distrust in a friendship with Jesus. When we pray, expecting God to change our circumstances and nothing happens, we often conclude that 1) he is not powerful enough to change our situation, or 2) he simply doesn’t care. Following Jesus’ ascension, his followers had to figure out how grace works in everyday life. What they discovered is that Jesus rarely changes our circumstances, and instead, he changes us.
Most of us have an inclination/habit/impulse/addiction or circumstance that is not easily overcome. Left unattended, it can dominate our lives. We are habitually pulled—constrained—toward our bentness like a shopping cart with a bent wheel.
Jesus’ grace does not necessarily change our “bent wheel”; we might wrestle with those inclinations/habits/impulses/addictions or circumstances for life. Jesus does not fix all of our problems. Instead, he empowers us to steer the shopping cart in a straight line despite the bent wheel. That’s grace.
The power of grace flows most fully when human will chooses to act in harmony with divine will. In practical terms, this means staying in a situation, being willing to confront it as it is, remaining responsible for the choices one makes in response to it, but at the same time turning to God’s grace, protection, and guidance as the ground for one’s choices and behavior. It is the difference between testing God by avoiding one’s own responsibilities and trusting God as one acts responsibly.
What is your experience of God’s grace amid inclination/habit/impulse/addiction or difficult circumstances? And in what ways do you need that kind of grace today?
Jules Toner, A Commentary on Saint Ignatius’ Rules for the Discernment of Spirits, p. 42.