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Common grace for the common good: look for it

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get a little bit down and discouraged about the state of the world, current events, and the like.

I stopped watching the news on TV years ago because it was just too depressing. I care deeply about this world and the people in it, which means that sometimes the pain and the sorrow and the struggles threaten to overwhelm me – whether they’re down the street or on the other side of the world.

But I’ve realized that I can choose to see the whole picture of life on earth. The beautiful, the good, and the joyful are present, as well. Learning to look for those things, celebrate them, honor and give thanks for them is a discipline that we can all cultivate.

I am not talking about a naïve, Pollyanna-esque, “always look on the bright side of life” kind of philosophy.

What I mean is that I can look at the world – my country – my city – my neighborhood – my family – and see the evil and the grief and the despair, and I can acknowledge that they exist, but then I can also look for and find the beauty, goodness, provision, and order in the world around me.

In some circles, this is referred to as “common grace.” It is called common grace because it is a gift for everyone everywhere, and it exists for the common good of us all.

Common grace is the rain that fell last week on the drought-stricken lands of Central Texas that I call home.

The day-to-day workings of our highways, stoplights, railroad crossings, and emergency alert systems are all common grace. Imagine trying to function in most cities without those things!

Common grace is the nine-to-five job, the weekly paycheck, the full refrigerator, and the gas available for us to buy at the gas station.

It’s the birth of a baby, the smile of a friend – or stranger – and a cup of strong, hot coffee in the morning.

Consider this: we are, all of us, both recipients and stewards of common grace. We live and breathe in it, whether we know it or not. We help to shape it and pass it on to those around us.

So look for it. Count on it. Common grace is a gift for each and every one of us, and it exists for the common good.

How will you receive common grace this week? And how will you steward it?

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  1. Steph

    My daughter isn’t feeling so great this week. Our common grace will be comfort measures…a humidifier, soup and a good movie.

  2. Caroline Starr Rose

    I’ve also been thinking about common grace and our rains here in NM! What a gift.

  3. Sarah @ LeftBrainBuddha

    This is lovely! In fact, my post for today is about this…. being open for the unexpected, for the little things that can WOW us. These common graces usually come to me through my children… they’re glad it’s raining because the flowers are getting a drink, or they appreciate the garbage man taking away the garbage from the neighborhood.

    I love how you link this to the common good…. It’s about finding the beauty and good in the world for all of us, not just ourselves.

  4. Megan at SortaCrunchy

    “Consider this: we are, all of us, both recipients and stewards of common grace.”

    Your words are the inspiration I needed to start this week. Thank you for this, Katie. XOXO

  5. Mare

    so true. There is always good to see, if we look for it. We get off track when we EXPECT life to be grand all the time, then we’re critical because that’s not reality. I, too, am sad about the state of affairs in our country. I just pray. Human kind has been messed up from Day 1. Only God can help us.

  6. Bethany V.

    This is a beautiful and encouraging article. But, I’m going to pick on you a little (please take it lightly as it is meant) for picking on Pollyanna. My pastor makes the same kind of references and it bugs me then too. When was the last time you actually watched that movie? I love that movie, mostly because of her positive attitude. This little girl has faced a great deal, she grew up on the mission field with very little and then lost her parents and was transported across the world to an totally new environment. But she knew how to be thankful and that helps her to survive. I love “the Glad Game” and I think we should all play it a little more. I’m reminded of Corrie ten Boom’s sister Betsie and her gratitude for the fleas in the concentration camp because it kept the guards away. I’ve always believed that gratitude is an important part of daily grace.

  7. Bethany Kaczmarek

    A beautiful reminder, Katie. This week, we’re enjoying a family that knows the value of togetherness, a cool home, a garden full of fresh veggies, belly-laughs, books in every corner, and freedom to enjoy all this common grace. We love the saving grace, too.

  8. Alison

    I relate to your early comments about stopping watching the news. I found that getting my news online, where I could identify what I could cope with reading, and what I couldn’t (at that moment in time), and not be deluged with overwhelming things.

    I also found that practising ‘thank you’ prayers as a family reminds us of the common graces we have: whether it’s the rain, or Daddy being home early, or a great book we found at the library.

    Thanks for your post!

  9. Clair

    this is wonderful reminder on keeping the good and bad in perspective and allowing ourselves to see and be grateful for the joy that exists in our world. thank you, katie.

  10. julie g

    I love this. I just spent two years overseas living with my family in a country from which the West hears a lot of bad news. And while it’s true: horrible injustices and atrocities occur there, all I could think of whenever those news stories broke was, “I just wish people back home could know the many, many people I’ve met who are loving and generous and make sacrifices every day to help those in need.” There are hard stories, yes, but there are always good stories too. It helps me to remember that even when I can’t see it.

  11. Marylin

    Whenever something awful happens, look closer – look at all the people who help. There are so many more good people in this world than bad. That’s what gets me through reading the news.

  12. Karen

    This was such and encouraging word for me! I am exactly like that, and if I get my eyes on everything that’s wrong in my work, I am paralyzed with fear and depression, but keeping my eyes focused on the right and good things that God is doing keeps me strong. We have to keep looking up to the grace you’re talking about.

  13. Jamie

    Perfect perspective for those who feel so deeply! I needed to read this today! Thank you!!

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