Let us pray: Dear Savior, hardly a day goes by when we’re not slammed by something new and often awful in life. The news headlines are depressing, personal issues at work or at home get us down, health concerns crop up at the most inopportune moments, and then there is the uncertainty over money and the economy. How we long for endless days of quiet contentment. Lord, heaven isn’t here yet, but Your tremendous love for us is here, right now! Focus our thoughts and re-order our priorities to reflect that truth, for then we’ll not just cope, we’ll flourish as an oasis in a desert wasteland. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, GOD’S LOVE FOR YOU IN THE FLESH!
TEXT: Romans 8: 35-39
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
I know when I get to heaven I’ll think differently than I do now since heaven is all about perfect bliss and harmony, but sometimes I think: “When I get there I’m going to find Adam and Eve and give them a good, swift kick! After all, their foolishness is what brought so much suffering into existence. Their foolishness caused me pain and those I love and care about unhappiness and suffering.” Have you ever entertained similar thoughts?….
Suffering is part of our existence. We instinctively know that it’s a foreign, invading “thing” that just should not be, but it is. It ranges from the heart-rending headline about fanatical Muslims beheading the New Hampshire journalist this past week, to the national upset in Missouri caused by irrational mobs, to one of my former professors undergoing chemo-therapy in Minnesota for aggressive leukemia. The point is: none of us has to look very hard to find suffering and pain born of human evil. Maybe Adam and Eve deserve a couple of kicks!!?
St. Paul was no stranger to suffering and the battleground of emotions that it brings. But, by God’s grace, he didn’t let his emotions dictate when it came to finding true comfort and inner peace in the middle of human pain. Like all faith-filled Christians, Paul turned to Christ and looked to Christ. He trusted in a source of help that was outside of his frail flesh. He turned to God, Who never changes, and more specifically to Christ, God’s Son and our Savior. So, Paul asks rather rhetorically: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”
If I were to minister to the Foley family in New Hampshire this is the text I would use. It is sublime! It transcends raw human emotions and forces us to focus on a source of strength that nothing can overcome—not even the tragic death of a son. Jesus loves us all the time. Jesus proved it by giving up His life for us on the cross. Then by taking His life back, for us, He solidified that love. It’s as alive and vibrant as He is! Yes, His love for you and me is never-ending. Nothing this world can throw at us can diminish it. We can choose to ignore it. We can fail to take it to heart. We can even throw it aside for a while, and sometimes we do. Yet, His great love for lost sinners is still there, beckoning us back, waiting for us to listen, learn, and believe.
Paul quotes from Ps. 44 when he writes: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” That’s our situation in the world, isn’t it? We’re really helpless sheep who are defenseless against evil. That’s how the world sees us and they mock us for it. But, it’s an apt description of what humans face throughout life.
However, in Godly reality, we’re not defenseless at all! In fact, our Christian faith is the ultimate weapon of offense against all evil! So, now comes that tremendous song of praise: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Mind you, Paul wrote that to Roman Christians! Rome, where they knew all about conquering heroes! Yes, simple believers outstrip all others when it comes to standing up to evil, beating evil, and coping with evil. “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.”
Christians in America can and will rise above the mob mentality in Missouri.—Thank God! We do so by letting God’s commandments guide us in everything and by always remembering that Jesus sees and judges all. Christians in America can and will rise above and defeat terrorism—Thank God! We do so by fighting evil with every weapon God gives us in the civil sphere. And the Christians in America can and will handle all pain, suffering and death with heads held high and hearts filled with humility over the conquering power of God’s grace which is eternal. If nothing can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ—then we have nothing to fear. And once fear is gone, the lasting power of evil is defanged and defeated. Our Lord Jesus has made it so!
My friends, amid the drumbeat of depressing news, take courage and embrace optimism! After all, Christians like you are the salt, the preservative of this earth! No matter what the media may tell you or your flesh may shudder at, on this very day: Christ the Conquering Hero Gives His Victory to You! Amen