A Painful Grace
King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the Lord. 2 Chronicles 26:21
Once, while speaking of my addiction and how it has brought me closer to God, a wise friend suggested that my addiction was a painful grace. Though it was miserable and though I don’t want to go through it again, I would never have come to know God as I do without it. I’m not proud of the pain I caused others, but the pain I caused myself was worth it. I wouldn’t give it up, even if I could.
I was recently speaking with that same wise friend about today’s passage, when he suggested the same perspective. I tend to view King Uzziah’s leprosy simply as the punishment of a God, angry at Uzziah’s pride. Uzziah’s leprosy, like my addiction though, was perhaps a painful grace. In his pride, Uzziah abandoned God to follow himself. In his leprosy, Uzziah was robbed of that which made him arrogant.
The blessing of being a successful king was, in the grand scheme of things, harmful to Uzziah as it turned him from God. Leprosy, though it was surely miserable, cured Uzziah of his pride. As a leper, he could no longer enter the temple and had to watch his son govern in his place.
I often get it wrong I think. I see the good things in life as God’s blessings – evidence that He loves me. God, thanks for all the good stuff! I see the painful things as either punishment or neglect. A flat tire God? Come on!
It is our nature to wander from God during the easy times, just as it is our nature to cling to Him during the bad. From this perspective, it’s the trials and discipline that are the true grace. The challenge for us, is to keep our eyes on God during both blessing and trial. We must daily choose to turn from ourselves, embracing His eternal perspective and will.