God Gives Grace When You Need It…Not When You Want It

Eighteen months ago, my husband got the job he had been preparing for throughout the previous two years. The news was exciting but also terrifying. It meant we had to give up the stability of home and nearby friends and family in exchange for moving to a new place every month.

Celebrating his new job

As we began preparing for this major life change, I also began struggling with the uncertainty and stress of moving so often. I was sitting in our living room one night, surrounded by half-packed boxes, feeling sick of packing, when I realized that regularly packing and unpacking would be the one of the very few consistencies in our life for the next two years.

And suddenly, I was completely overwhelmed. I sat there, overcome with doubt, and tearfully told my husband, “I don’t think I can do this. How do I know I’m going to be able to handle this?”

If there’s one true thing about life it’s that it’s full of transitions and new challenges. Just when you think you’ve got life down pat, it changes on you.

You transfer to a new college. Your old friends move away, and you have to make new ones. You job changes. You go on a blind date. You move. You have to give a public speech for the first time. You have your first kid. Or third.

You’d think these daunting tasks would be hardest when you’re walking through them. But I’ve found that new challenges are just as hard in the days and weeks beforehand, when they’re looming large right in front of you. Doubts love to nibble at the edge of your mind when the decision is not yet permanent, and you still have time to back out. Or, worse, when you’ve made your decision and then can’t do anything but wait in restless anticipation for the moment to arrive.

Because, really — how do you know you’re going to be able to handle it?

No big change ever seems completely feasible until you’re doing it. And all the plans in the world don’t make that first step any less scary. You haven’tproven you can do it yet. You don’t have a tried and true roadmap.

It’s terrifying, because you truly don’t know. You don’t know if you’re going to thrive, or if you’re going to fall flat on your face and fail.

I recently listened to a podcast about transitions like this. The guest speaker, Diana Carter, said she had been thinking about her and her husband having kids one day. But she had been doubting if she could really do what it takes to be a good mom.

And then she said something so powerful and beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. She said she had realized that “God hasn’t poured that grace in my cup yet, because I’m not sitting at that table yet.”

Friends, that’s the key. God will pour the grace we need, but not until we’re sitting at the table. Not until we’re in the moment.

The next season of life, even the next moment sometimes, seems daunting and impossible now because you’re not there yet. God will always come through for you, but He waits until you actually need His grace.

My husband and I have been on the road for over a year now, and I can honestly say that God has shown up for us in every trying and scary moment since that night in our living room.

Ready to fly to our next phase of life

Our move seemed terrifying right up to the moment we hugged our families goodbye at the airport and walked away. But as soon as we stepped away from a place of known-ness and into a place of new-ness, something changed. God met us there.

Right when our hearts may have failed us, God was our strength (Psalm 73:26). Right when we were alone and unsure and desperately in need of Him, He showed up. We were at the table, and He poured His grace.

Every moment since then, with every new twist and turn, God has continually provided grace. But not until we needed it.

So what sustains us until He pours that grace? Faith. Faith bridges the gap between the doubt of today and the grace of tomorrow. Faith helps you push through the whispers of doubt until it’s time to start doing what seems so impossible.

Go back in your memory to the last time you felt like this — unsure, scared, teetering on the edge of a life-changing moment. Did God come through for you? Keep going back further and further in your memory, reminding yourself how things turned out and what those situations taught you.

Then preach truth to yourself. Truths like: “He who called [me] is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24), “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5), and — one of my personal favorites — “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you” (Isa. 43:2).

You don’t have to know how your decisions will work out yet. You don’t need to predict the twists and turns your path might take. You just need to believe with everything in you that God will meet you in your time of transition. And when that time comes — sit at the table and watch Him pour His grace.


If you’re facing a big decision that will bring some kind of transition into your life, and you aren’t sure what to choose, read God’s Will Is Not a Mystery.


Originally published on Jessica’s Medium profile on May 26, 2019.

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