Unexpected Grace: The Grace of Pain

Jul 26, 2011

Today’s unexpected grace doesn’t feel like a grace at all.

It started a week ago. How life can change in a such a short number of days. The phone rang, someone who knew of a struggling mom of three preschoolers. The kids needed a home, a mom and a dad to love them for a lifetime.

My husband and I have always talked about being foster parents or adopting. It’s always been in our heart to make our home a place of love and refuge for anyone who needs it. We have more bedrooms than we need, more love than we can possibly give away. So our response to the request was a resounding YES!

What followed were five days of beautiful, precious, unmatched grace. My days went from ordinary ones to ones filled with the precious sounds of children’s laughter, countless “I love you’s” and kisses on dirty foreheads. I served up macaroni & cheese followed by popsicles in the grass in the back yard. We took walks at sunset, little hands filling up my own, and talked about the God who painted the sky. The park swings and slides that had long been abandoned by my boys were once again filled with sweet faces of innocence, faces that looked into mine and lit up with love.

And when bedtime came, I reached into a dark dusty corner of my closet to pull out the book with tattered pages I used to read to my children every night. And in those moments, late at night, when my almost 40-year-old body ached for rest and wondered if I could possibly raise another three children, my heart knew one thing for certain:

I was made to be a mother.

But circumstances changed. Just as we contacted an adoption attorney and began to make adjustments in our jobs and schedules, another unexpected call interrupted our day. As in most complicated situations like these, emotions and family dynamics can wreak havoc with grace. And in a single day, the sweet sound of children’s voices again disappeared from within the walls of my home.

I’m filled with loss. And in the void I’m left with more pain than grace.

But pain, too, is an unexpected grace. It’s a teacher far more potent than those without the sting. For in pain we learn:

  • How to love.
  • How to live.
  • How to be like Him.

So although this moment is a painful one, it is also an unexpected grace. For today I’m reminded that the One who made me to be a mother has used heartbreak to teach me this:

To be like Him is to always be ready to love. 

And to be like Him is to love without restraint, whether for a lifetime or for a few beautiful days.



  1. Mel @ Trailing After God

    OH Michele my heart aches for you! Yet, I’m thankful to see how much you loved those precious little children while they were in your home, like they were your very own. Praying for your hurting heart sweet one!

    • Michele

      Thanks, Mel. As sad as we’ve been the past 24 hours, it’s been a beautiful experience in many ways, too. Much we’ve already learned, so much more yet to learned. Thank you for your sweet encouragement, my friend.

  2. Diane Marie Shaw

    Michele, those precious children may no longer be in your home but you can still have a lasting impact on their lives through your prayers for their future. These few days will remain in your heart.
    Five days may not seem enough time to make a difference in their lives but people have been impacted by a few words spoken by someone they never see again. You gave those children five days of love, safety, acceptance and fun. They may not remember your name but they will remember the lady who gave them popscicles to eat in the back yard.
    Don’t be afraid to keep on loving even though it may occasionally lead to pain. Jesus was the ultimate lover and the pain he was scheduled to endure was indescribable but it didn’t stop His love from being poured out drop by drop.
    God needed to find a safe place for those children for a few days and He looked around and said, “Ah yes, Troy and Michele will love them and keep them safe. I trust these little ones to them.”

    • Michele

      You made me cry all over again, Diane. 🙂 Thank you for reminding me that our role is often to simply be available, without questioning the end result. And you’re right — none of us can let pain cause us to be afraid of loving. I believe it is impossible to love without pain. They go together, like the sunrise and sunset. To eliminate one is to miss out on the beauty of the other.

  3. Beck Gambill

    Pierces my heart. Unexpected grace indeed pain. I wonder how often Jesus wants to use pain to unite our hearts to his, I find myself resisting that kind of union. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I pray that throbbing ache of love is eased by Jesus and also turned into precious prayers for those children’s hearts.

    • Michele

      So, so true. Pain isn’t something we enjoy, and it’s understandable that we try to avoid it! But I’ve experience more beauty in my relationships with God and others through painful circumstances.



  1. When God Asks the Impossible | Michele Cushatt - [...] Almost 6 months ago, we received a phone call. A relative asked us to raise her three children. I…

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