by Gloria Furman
Some mornings you just wake up feeling exceptional. Like the other morning when I was jarred to consciousness by the bizarre sensation of having hundreds of breadcrumbs sprinkled over my head and eau de garlic filling my nostrils.
I opened my eyes to see my toddler son shaking an empty pizza delivery box over my head. “Mommy, you wake up? Pizza all gone. I get more yummy food.” He dropped the box on the floor and darted away. As I sat up, breadcrumbs comingled with drops of garlic sauce rained into my bed. On cue, my alarm clock started beeping. I wondered how many people in the history of the world had ever been woken up in the same manner.
“If This Happened to You, Then…”
Forget the pizza party, because I had already invited myself to a personal pity party. Shuffling toward the bathroom and leaving a trail of garlicky crumbs behind me, grumbling bubbled up out of my heart and escaped my lips. Then the 60-second snooze went off on my alarm. I grunted and forcefully fumbled the buttons to turn it off. I was devolving into some kind of garlic-covered gorilla.
All morning long I blamed my crummy attitude on the pizza crumbs itching my scalp and every other thing that wasn’t going my way. I didn’t want to be the only one at my pity party, so I made sure to let everyone know how upset I was. Later as we all drove to lunch I whined to my husband. “I had one of those mornings. First, it was the pizza box…” I indulged my bitterness, rehearsing all of my grievances. He listened, and then he responded. “That’s a really crazy morning. But none of these things are your biggest problem right now, are they?” I looked over at him—he was smiling. “Oh, this is funny? If this happened to you, then…” While I was mentally preparing a rebuttal, something happened. Hope-filled conviction.
The Better “If/Then” Arguments
The circumstances of that morning were exceptionally chaotic, but not a one of them gave me an exception to sin. The Holy Spirit brought a different “If/Then” statement my mind: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1). I had not forgotten God’s call on my life to be holy as he is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16). I had, instead, imagined that my circumstances gave me just cause to stomp around and hurl my rotten bananas attitude at my family. Holiness is out of the question when you’ve been driven to this point, right?
Outside of the grace of God in the gospel we all remain in our guerilla, law-breaking sin. We’re justly condemned under the wrath of a holy God. But praise the Lord—he sent the Messiah! The “If/Then” statement in this passage contains good news about provision for our holiness:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (Gal. 2:20-21).
Certainly, chaotic circumstances need to be handled, but our most desperate need is to be delivered from our sin by the crucified and risen Christ. Our hope for holiness is not by excusing our sin, evading the demands of holiness, or pretending we’ve met God’s perfect standards. Our hope for holiness is by affirming God’s grace and living by faith in the Son of God who was delivered up for our sin and raised for our justification (Rom. 4:22-25). If righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Treasuring the Gospel on “Those” Mornings
When you feel like the only reasonable thing for you to do is to let your circumstances carry your heart away, treasure the gospel. Take pains to remember that Jesus gave himself for you because he loved you even as you were dead in your sin (Rom. 5:8-10). Beloved, he knew your rebellious sin nature and he died for you anyway. Treasuring the gospel means that we live lives of repentance, rejoicing that we no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in us.
There is no hope for the garlic sauce stains on my pillowcase, but there is ever-abounding hope for you and me, sinners rescued by a merciful Savior. Our sovereign God is powerful enough to use frustrating circumstances for his gospel purposes in our lives. And we’re free to enjoy his grace and extend it to others as he grows us in Christ-likeness, teaching our hearts to yearn for even more grace upon grace.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gloria Furman (@gloriafurman) is mostly from Texas. In 2008 she moved to the Middle East with her husband Dave to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai. They have three kiddos plus another on the way. Gloria is the author of Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home (Crossway 2013) and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms (Crossway 2014).