“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:28
The Apostle Paul ends most of his letters with this or a similar prayer. Grace is one of the attributes of God and as such we should not be surprised to learn that He is always gracious toward us.
From time to time I discover myself saying something like, “God was gracious when He …” Oh, isn’t He always gracious? The fact is that God is always gracious but we tend only to recognise the fact when something goes our way and we receive benefit that makes us feel good.
Was God ungracious when (speaking hypothetically) I was sacked, was He ungracious when I lost my wallet, when my car was stolen, when my house burned down, when that car ran into me, when I contracted cancer?
God is always gracious and we need to look carefully at our motives for commenting on what we perceive as His gracious acts because we may inadvertently be suggesting that there are times when He is not gracious toward us. Is it really thankfulness for a kind and undeserved favour; or is it an attempt to make me appear more deserving of God’s favour than others (in which case it isn’t God’s grace at all but my boasting); or is it an attempt to flatter God into doing more that pleases me rather than what He knows is good for me?
We live in a fallen world where both pleasant and unpleasant things happen but they do not mean that God’s grace has been increased, paused or stopped. When we give thanks for God’s gracious acts toward us let us not stop there but thank Him for His grace even when we do not recognise it. Maybe we even think that He has forgotten us when the reality is that His grace is as abounding as ever.
The attributes of our God are always in action toward us whether we recognise them or not. God is love so His love is always reaching out to us; God is merciful so He is always merciful toward us; God is forgiving so He always forgives when we repent; God is righteous so His actions toward us are always according to righteousness; and so on.
Yes, by all means thank God for His grace toward you when you become aware of it but be very careful that there isn’t an underlying complaint that suggests that at other times He has not been gracious with you. If we only knew the extent of the wickedness of our hearts we would never suggest that God’s love, grace and mercy have been anything other than in abundance beyond words and measure.