“Why do you like this song so much?” Audrey asked as it played on our way to school. We had recently attended a concert hosted by The Psalm Project and purchased two of their CDs, one of which features Psalm 85. Show us your unfailing love. The song plays and replays. To me, it is grace on repeat. And that’s probably why I cry.
The longer I walk with Christ, the less I feel I’m advancing toward sophistication. Instead, I'm bending more and more toward the most elemental things: sin, grace, salvation. I marvel at what is simplest. And like a child – I am awed by the faithful, steadfast love of God.
Show us your unfailing love. The Psalmist invites us to boldly entreat God for his unqualified, extravagant, and persistent love. Love me, God! Don’t fail at loving me! Keep at loving me, no matter what I do! Don’t give up on me, God!
If we were to be honest, while this is a prayer we delight in praying for ourselves, we often don’t welcome others to this beg for grace, as thoroughly biblical and right as we may understand it to be. We are amenable to the idea that God should persist in loving us - and uneasy when others seem to insist upon this for themselves. That grace imbalances the scales of justice never bothers us more than when it favors another person whom we choose to see as “undeserving.”
I confess this as a frequent sin of my own heart and an abuse of the grace I enjoy. We abuse grace, not only by persisting in the sin of which grace begs us to repent (“Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!”), but also by begrudging others the grace for which they desperately long, by hating the prayers of even the self-proclaimed guilty who pray, ‘Love me, God! Don’t fail at loving me! Keep at loving me, no matter what I do! Don’t give up on me, God!”
We may only arrive at a decent appraisal of grace when we begin fearing its liberality. Yes, grace makes for disequilibrium: God loves sinners.
This preamble of grace serves as a long introduction to a book that some will judge as having presumed upon grace to defend her own sin. In her recently released book, Unraveling, Elisabeth Concoran writes about the lavish grace of God in the midst of the separation and divorce from her husband of 19 years. The message she has shared with many women hurting from a divorce hasn't always been welcome.
I am grateful how Elisabeth begins her book, framing the content of her story with a confident assertion of belief.
“I believe the Bible is God’s divinely inspired word to us.”
“I am 100% pro-marriage.”
“I believe God created marriage as a covenant to last for the lifetime of the couple.”
“I believe God would have wanted my marriage to become healthy and remain intact.”
This is a woman who, while committed to the biblical idea of marriage, watched her own marriage fall apart; who, while hoping in God, did not receive the deliverance she had asked of him.
Elisabeth is deliberately evasive about the story of her own marriage’s unraveling: this is no doubt for our best. We cannot judge the “merit” of her decision, although our impulse to do so may be strong; we can only journey with her in her episodes of “Brokenness,” “Grief,” “Vulnerability,” “Unknowns,” “Rejection,” “Sadness,” “Truth,” “New.”
Although I don’t know Elisabeth personally, I admire her commitment to leaning into grace. I have not read the entirety of the book, but I do sense it can be, if not the final destination for someone healing from a divorce, a traveling companion.
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Elisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, along with several other books. She speaks several times a month to women's groups and is a member of Redbud Writers' Guild. During her time at Christ Community Church’s Blackberry Creek Campus in Aurora, Illinois she began and led their women's ministry for ten years prior to moving to the city’s Orchard Community Church. She lives with her children in Illinois. Visit her online at http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/difficult-marriage-divorce/ or https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethKleinCorcoran. She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in joining.
Unraveling can be purchased at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/po3ek2w.