Faithfully yours - What grace can't erase
- Published on Sunday, March 26, 2017
By Neil Strohschein
The Neepawa Banner
After completing last week’s column, I spent additional time reflecting on the life and experiences of King David. As I did, I was struck by the fact that there are some things that not even the grace of God can erase—at least, not in this life.
That was the case with King David. His sins were punishable by death. But David received favor he did not deserve. God set aside the death penalty. David was allowed to live—but his life was far from the idyllic life he had enjoyed in his first years as king.
David’s sins triggered a series of consequences that he was powerless to control. He had to deal with deceit, treachery, adultery, murder and rebellion in his family and in the highest ranks of his government. One of his sons rebelled against him, forcing him into exile. The rebellion was put down quickly, but the people were in no hurry to reinstate David as king. They were prepared to let him die in exile; after which they would pledge allegiance to his successor.
David wasn’t even allowed to die in peace. He had to abdicate and pass the kingdom on to his son Solomon in order to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
The consequences of David’s sin followed him to the day he died. As difficult as this might be for us to accept and believe, this too was an act of God’s amazing grace. The David who came back to Jerusalem following his sin and exile was a far different David than the one who had been deposed and forced to run for his life. He never forgot his sins. Nor did he forget the pain they had brought to him, to his family, to his kingdom and most of all, to his God.
The post-exilic David was more diligent; more devoted to duty; kinder, more loving and caring than he had ever been before. He was a different person thanks to what he had suffered.
David’s story is not unique. It is repeated (to a greater or lesser extent) in the life of every person who has ever lived on this planet. We all sin—and just like he did with David, God allows us to suffer the consequences of our sins. Then, to help us keep from doing the same things again, he does not erase the memories of those events from our minds. Nor does he force those hurt by our actions to forget the pain they suffered at our hands. He asks them to forgive us—but he also knows that relationships fractured by sin can never be the same again.
We can’t undo what has been done in the past. The most we can do is seek (and find) God’s forgiveness, make amends where possible and move on; living our lives in such a way that all those around us will be able to see that, like King David, we are different people thanks to the mistakes we’ve made, the suffering we’ve endured and the changes we’ve made in our lives.
That won’t always be easy. Society may not be as forgiving as God is. Society may impose restrictions on us because of our sins. Clouds of suspicion may always hover over us—sometimes right up to the day we die. But at that moment, we will experience God’s grace in a way we could never have imagined. For at death, we will enter a world where our past is no more and where, at last, we can rest in peace.