Worship Wednesday- River of Grace

I don't remember when I first came across this song. It was probably one of those suggested songs that Spotify played once my playlist was over. I'm so glad it came on. It has become a regular listen and a consistent encouragement. "River of Grace" has one of those melodies that gets stuck in my head... way better than Baby Shark or that awful Selfie song (both of which were gifted to me from my daughters and took a solid week to clear out of my head... thanks girls). Anyway, this song comes from an album of "Lullabies for the Beloved", so don't read anything unintended into the baby reference. When I first heard it, I needed the comfort of a lullaby.

We all bear burdens, some which we place on ourselves; some which are forced upon us. Everyone's burden is different, but no less important or difficult. I texted with my brother a bit about that today, and I think it may be helpful for me to put a few of my thoughts down regarding these burdens (helpful or not, my blog, so I get to share... but hopefully helpful).

Some people might look at my situation, dealing with an unfaithful spouse, losing my job, getting divorced, etc., and think it was too harsh, or maybe undeserved, for someone like me to go through. Maybe you think, wow, that was hard, but I've gone through something even harder. Maybe you look at divorce and think that pales a bit when compared to going through cancer, or the death of a loved one, or not being able to have children, or being paralyzed. If you think that way, I would urge you to proceed with caution.

Pain is pain. We all feel it differently and can handle it in different ways. When I look at the trials faced by those in my immediate circle, I don't know how I would've handled them. How would I handle losing a parent suddenly, seeing a loved one go through the wringer with cancer, live in constant worry about the next paycheck, or live to see a child completely walk away from the Lord? I haven't had to worry about those things. On the other hand, sometimes I've wished that I could trade my trial for someone else's, thinking what they had to hand way easier. However, it would be foolish of me to think that my journey, my pain, is somehow easier or more difficult than someone else's. Is the pain of a middle school girl who was just shamed in front of all her friends less than the pain of man who has just been laid off from a job he's faithfully served at for decades? Is the pain of going through cancer greater than the pain of a faithful pet dying? Like I said, pain is pain, and we all go through what we can handle.

Each of us is given the pain we need to grow in our faith. Yes, I said pain is a gift (more on that in a later post). It's the perfect kind of pain for us, and not better or worse than anyone else's. It's arrogance to think my pain is easier or harder to bear. That diminishes God's plan and raises me up to His level of sovereignty, thinking I've got someone else's pain figured out. So, please be cautious. This kind of thinking leads to very unhelpful, and even damaging comments like "I know what you're going through," or "I've been through the same thing" or "I've been through worse". If you've been through your own valley you know how empty and hurtful these comments can be.

The truth is you don't know what I've gone through. You haven't been through the same thing. I haven't been through your journey or pain either. There may be similarities, but because we are each unique, going through a unique path of growth towards Christlikeness, no two pains are alike.

Something much more helpful to say would be, "I don't know what you're going through, and I won't pretend to know exactly how you feel, but when I went through my particular trial, here are some ways I found comfort and hope. Perhaps they will bring you some peace as well." Or a simple, "I'm praying for you." Or "Here's a Psalm that has brought me encouragement. Perhaps it will encourage you."

I want to add that I've been blown away at the outpouring of love and kindness from so many of you as I've begun to write and share some of my thoughts. I don't mean to sound harsh with any of this. I'm just being real about what I've gone through and I hope you'll take my words with that little grain of salt.

Whatever pain you've been through, whether the world, your church, your family, or even your own heart consider it great or small, know that there is no hurt that is small in God's eyes. If He cares for the birds of the field and knows the hairs on your head how can He not care for what you care about? That is the reminder of this precious song. If you are in Christ, then His grace flows within you, and He is calling each of us to lay our burdens down and find rest in His arms. We weren't made to carry these burdens alone. Jesus asks us to come and find rest in Him (Mt. 11:28). We weren't made to lock our worries inside and carry them like a weight on our back. He calls us to leave those with Him in prayer (Phil. 4:6-7). As this song reminds us, God's grace is inside us, and the freedom from these burdens is available anytime. All it takes is faith and the obedience to follow Christ's command of coming to Him and finding rest.

River of Grace
by Christy Nockels

There is a place, far from this worried world
Where freedom awaits
From that burden you've got locked inside
Oh how you tend to hide

So won't you go there with me, down to the riverside
Where the water runs free
And you can let your heart swing open wide
Won't you swing it open wide?

'Cause baby, you weren't made to carry such a load
Lay it down and we can watch it go
Down the river of grace, the river of grace
And all it takes, is a little bit of faith
And Jesus comes, and carries it away
Down the river of grace, the river of grace

Here's the beautiful thing, that river runs inside you
And you can go anytime
And it's there your Saviour waits for you
Yeah, He's waiting there for you

Cast your every care, cast them way out there
In the river deep, in the endless supply
And feel your heart rise up, from that cleansing flood
So clean and free, so true and alive
So true and alive, so true and alive


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