Thanking God for the Riches of His Grace – by Greg Albrecht
Friend and Partner Letter for November 2023:
Teddy, only eight years old, was dying in the hospital of a rare blood disease. He was admitted two weeks before in critical condition, and his health had steadily gone downhill since then. One or both of his parents had been at his bedside for these two weeks, and then yesterday his doctors told them it seemed like Teddy’s condition had stabilized and he might have 4-6 weeks to live.
Teddy’s mother and father felt they could both go home for a day and take care of some pressing matters, and then return the next day. But during the day when his parents were gone, Teddy’s health alarmingly deteriorated, going from bad to worse. He was moved from his room to intensive care and his parents rushed back to the hospital.
They had not talked with Teddy about death – it was too painful and they held out hopes he would not die. It was now late at night, and the mother and father tearfully realized their son might not make it through the night. The chaplain in the small hospital had gone home. Very few staff members were on duty during what was called, tragically in Teddy’s situation, the graveyard shift.
The on-duty doctor knew of one nurse, near retirement, who was working and, knowing her to be a woman of faith, called her. “Teddy’s parents are wondering if you could join them and talk with Teddy, and assure him God loves him.” This lady, a mother and a grandmother, was not Teddy’s nurse, but all the staff in the hospital knew about Teddy. This nurse silently prayed and then walked into intensive care to join Teddy and his parents.
She sat down next to him on his bed and took his hands in her own. Teddy’s eyes were closed. He was laboring to breathe, even with the help of a ventilator. “Teddy, listen to me. God loves you. You may be leaving this hospital soon, and if you do you will go to live with God in his house. You need to know that you will be with him and he will love you forever and ever.”
Teddy’s eyes slowly opened, and his grasp on the nurse’s hands tightened. “Tell me again,” he said. After she again assured Teddy of God’s love, he looked up and in a barely audible whisper said, “Tell God thank you. I love him too.”
It doesn’t matter whether we are eight years old, or 78, 88, 98 or more, we thank God for his love. We thank God for the riches of his grace.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no man can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:4-10, my emphasis).
Here are some highlights of this extraordinary biblical passage:
- His GREAT LOVE for us
- He is RICH IN MERCY
- We are saved BY GRACE
- God’s KINDNESS IS EXPRESSED in Christ Jesus
- Our salvation is NOT from us, NOT by works
- Our salvation is THE GIFT OF GOD
- We are created, a new creation, in Christ, to do GOD’S GOOD WORKS
When we as Christ-followers ponder the wonderful depths of God’s love, mercy, grace and forgiveness, we do so in utter amazement about what Paul calls “the riches of his grace.”
Life in Christ is love. Life in Christ is grace. Life in Christ is mercy and forgiveness. Life in Christ is giving, the generosity that flows out of the grace and love of God.
Here we are, at THANKS-GIVING… AND as I have noted before in Thanksgiving letters, that one word is made up of two separate words. With that perspective we can learn and appreciate so much about the riches of God’s grace.
Some time ago I was reading essays about being thankful, many of them titled or employing the phrase “what matters when all is said and done.” After reading them I wrote my own reflection for Thanksgiving, an essay about what matters in the end. My essay is adapted from many other similar ones, and I call it …
What Matters, In the End
Someday our eyes will see no more sunrises or sunsets
Someday music and delicious food will not be as important
Someday our days of wine and roses, and our days of heartache and grief will end
Our life will end – all that we collected and accumulated will pass to others
What we owned or what others owed us will not matter
In the end, degrees we earned, the size of our house or our bank account will not matter
It will not matter whether we were male or female, beautiful or brilliant
It will not matter if we were black, white, yellow or brown
In the end political parties, nationality and religious distinctions will not matter
In the end all that will matter is the love and grace of God
God’s love and grace will endure and remain, forever.
God’s love and grace is all that matters, in the end.
Here we are at THANKS-GIVING.
The two actions of giving thanks and thanks-giving go together, hand in glove. Thanks breeds giving and giving gives birth to gratitude.
We can give without loving, but we cannot love without giving. God’s grace is love, and out of his grace and love, as Jesus lives in us, we give. There is no divine grace without giving. There is no divine love without giving.
Grace is poured out when we give. The doors to love and mercy are opened wide by the riches of God’s grace. Giving is therefore one of the supreme hallmarks of following Christ – it is in service to others that we realize what really does matter in life. It is in love for others that we realize how God loves us, now and forever.
It is in and through THANKS-GIVING that the rivers of God’s amazing, never-ending grace flow. God gives – God gives and gives and gives. Giving is his nature, and through his love and mercy and grace we drink deeply of what it means to give and be generous.
With deep thanks-giving please accept the gratitude of all whom CWR/PTM is blessed to serve. THANK YOU for helping, serving and supporting our ongoing, collective work to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and proclaim the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness of God – who is rich in grace!
As Teddy neared the end of his eight years of life on planet earth, he whispered, “Tell God thank you. I love him too.” As you and I give thanks – as we celebrate THANKS-GIVING – as we are grateful for the riches of God’s grace, may we also say “Thank you God. We love you too.”
Thankful with you and for you, in Christ’s service.
Your brother in Christ, Greg Albrecht