In light of passages like Romans 8:28-34, we can – and should – be encouraged. However, when we look up from our devotions, step out of a church service, or look at the rest of our lives, we might start to doubt what we just learned. Like Peter looking at the waves and starting to sink (see Matthew 14:22-33), the mess that we see around – and within – us can cause us to doubt the good news of God wanting positive things for us, even after we have followed Him (and His plan) for our salvation.
If there was any one thing that might tempt us to believe that God isn’t near to us, that He hasn’t justified us, and that He isn’t working for good, I think that suffering might be that one thing. Let’s keep reading.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39 NIV
To quote another teacher at our church (one who usually teaches in the room next to me on Sunday mornings), “Wow!”
Let’s take a look at just verse 35, to start with.
- Does your trouble mean that God doesn’t love you? Not at all. Jesus told His disciples that they would experience trouble (John 16:33), but that He had overcome the world.
- Does hardship imply that God hasn’t justified you? Nope. He is working for good, even through hardship.
- Does persecution mean that God has left us? It does not. God works through even bad things.
- Does not having enough to eat or nothing to wear suggest that God isn’t taking care of us? No. God provides for the birds and the lilies (see Luke 12:22-34), and we shouldn’t worry.
- Does danger or those who would harm us mean that God isn’t working for good? Of course not. Even if we are killed for our faith, God has a better place for His people in eternity.
Trust me, when we follow Jesus, it might not always look like we’re winning. But, like a quarterback (in American Football, with apologies to my international friends) that drops back, looks like he’s going to get sacked, and then throws a 30-yard pass for a touchdown, even times of trouble can be used in God’s plan for good.
And, we’re not just winning, either. Despite verse 36 confirming that problems do exist, verse 37 describes being “more than conquerors”, not because individuals are especially tough or anything, but through our loving God.
What are we afraid of? Trust me, I’m not judging you if you do worry about these things, since I battle the same kind of challenges. However, verses 38-39 confirm that we have nothing to fear from all sorts of things that try to get in our way (at least, once we have turned back to God, in the way that He asked us to).
- God loves us in our lives and will continue to love us even after our death from these mortal bodies.
- God loves us when angels minister to us on his behalf (like Elijah’s situation – see 1 Kings 17:1-5), and when forces of evil attack us (like Job’s situation – see Job 1-2).
- God loves us now, and will love us forever.
- God’s love can’t be broken by any power in this world that tries to separate us.
- God loves us no matter where we are, from sitting deep in a mineshaft or diving deep into the ocean, to flying in the sky or even space.
- And, there’s just nothing around us that can separate us from God’s love.
If Jesus’ death for us wasn’t enough evidence that God loves us, I’m really not sure what someone else might be waiting for. After all, that is the kind of love that God has for us.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for February 20, 2022
- The Lookout, February 20, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Romans, Volume 1, by Jack Cottrell. College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.