Grace is Sometimes VIOLENT

Posted: June 9, 2015 in World On The Edge


We human beings often become chained to our usual ways even though some of our actions are not good for us, and may even be very destructive to ourselves or other people.

We know we need change, but as life itself shows us, there is no change without action. An object, a person, and a fictional character, will continue in its existing state unless it is changed by some external force.

The external force may come through another person or persons. It may come through a physical event. It may even be something that threatens our very life. Still, without some external force, the tendency of any person is to do nothing, to remain unchanged–the same as a vase left for years on a table, collecting dust and cobwebs until someone comes to move it or dust it.

We know that God can take action to change us, and we refer to God’s action in our lives as His Grace.

Except we often think of God’s grace as a feel-good, feather duster; something to cleanse us gently and peacefully. But when we are not easily cleaned–which is often the case–God’s saving grace cannot be peaceful and sublime. In fact….

Sometimes grace is violent… sometimes God wants His life in you so much that it’s going to come in ways that mean you’re going to suffer. Not because He wills it but because He permits it. It says in Hebrews “I will shake you.” And I will shake all created things until all that is left is what is uncreated, what is unshakeable. Put simply — ‘Sometimes I’m going to let you suffer. I’m going to shake you free of all those things that you’ve put in place of my grace, in place of my life in you, until all that’s left is my life in you. Until all you can cling to… is me.’ – Mark Hart

The above quote is from speaker, Mark Hart, to a Catholic Life Teen group, I was struck by its weight. That grace is often uncomfortable, even violent, is the undercurrent of much of my fiction.

Without grace, Paul Dunaway in Mary’s Mountain would not have changed his indulgent ways because he enjoyed money, sex, and power too much. But it costs him.

In A Hunger in the Heart, the question of whether Coleman Puttman Bridgeman III can bring himself to forgive his mother–the woman he believes killed his father–will cost him.

In Birds of a Feather, ten characters struggle with the same outpour of grace. And it costs each one of them.

Grace is an external force. It is an intervention into a misguided, but comfortable situation, and more often than not, grace is uncomfortable. So yes, grace can heal us, but the process of our accepting it can be painful, even violent. And suffering may be its cost. Will we pay it or not?

The notion that grace is healing omits the fact that before it heals, it cuts with the sword Christ said he would bring. –Flannery O’Connor


  1. Jeannie says:

    Amen, Kaye! God does permit us to suffer, though His grace is at work. I love the song you chose, too. That’s one I used to listen to quite often when I was in college.


  2. This is incredible. The sword of Christ truly purge out dirts and infirmities in our lives. The fountain of life is never tire of giving mankind a drink. The question is, if we are willing to engage in this? I wish I could read your book, but kindle format is not accessible on my device, could access if it was pdf. All the best!


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