She was Gracious
As Christians, we know ‘grace’ to be the unmerited favour of God; it is a gift that we cannot earn. The world knows ‘grace’ as kindness, respect, politeness, forgiveness, mercy, style, poise, a meal-time prayer, and other similar meanings. And what about the word ‘gracious’? What does it mean to be gracious, especially in defeat or disappointment?
I found a fine example in the ACW National Archives of a young woman who was gracious after receiving disappointing news. It was reported in the August 1979 issue of Women at Work, the ACW National Newsletter, in an article about the Winifred Kiek Scholarship*, and it was referring to a letter that had been received six years earlier. Here is an excerpt:
‘But in considering the rejoicing and celebration of those who gained the Scholarship over past years, spare a thought for those not chosen. I cannot but think of Acts 1.21 when Peter gathers the eleven to choose a successor to Judas. "So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until He was taken up from us ... one of these men must become with us a witness of His Resurrection. And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias ... and they prayed ... and the lot fell on Matthias ... "RSV. Mention is never again made of Justus and we wonder what role God assigned to him instead. So it is with our disappointed ones. God no doubt replaces their ambitions with His own and "by the power at work within us, is able to do far more than all we ask or think ...." Eph. 3.20 RSV.
‘But there was a time when we caught a glimpse of the attitude of such a one. When the Working Committee was in Queensland in 1973, Mrs. Joyce Pope, W.K Convenor, received a letter from the Bishop of Madras, enclosing a letter which was written by a candidate who had applied unsuccessfully, and it was written from hospital where she was recovering from a fractured leg. "............ I am grateful to God for all the encouragement He gives me through many friends and relatives. I am able to be cheerful even after 14 weeks in bed because of your and others' prayers, love and concern.
‘I have received a letter from Australia, and they have given the Scholarship to a candidate from North India (Miss Kalpana Airan). I am happy to know that an Indian girl is given the opportunity. I have been praying about this. I have taken the answer from Mrs. Pope as God's will.
‘This fracture has taught me that nothing happens as one wishes and everything is in His hands and will happen in His own time. I am longing to get back to work ......"
‘What a beautiful spirit of faith and courage this reveals!’
Instead of complaining because she hadn’t been chosen for the scholarship, this young woman gave her support to the chosen candidate – she was truly gracious because God's grace was enough for her.
Her actions 49 years ago actually mirror the theme of this year’s Fellowship Day Service of ‘trust, reflect, rejoice’:
1. She trusted God for the outcome.
2. She reflected on all that had occurred.
3. She was able to rejoice with the successful candidate.
As the annual ACW Fellowship Day approaches, Friday 29 July, let us remember the opportunity we have to support this scholarship* named after Winifred Kiek and be gracious with our prayers and offerings.
*The Winifred Kiek Scholarship is now called the Winifred Kiek Memorial Scholarship – see https://www.acw.org.au/post/the-effects-of-change