Encouragement from Paul

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.

Romans 8:18 ESV

I quote this not because I am suffering. I have no reason to count myself among the sufferers. By all accounts, I am a rich man. I live in a large house with my family; I have a job that provides me with income; I have access to food, an endless supply of clean water, indoor plumbing, and (glory of all glories) access to the Internet. I truly lack nothing.

No, I quote this for the benefit of my brothers and sisters who do not have it so good. As I scroll my Facebook feed, I can’t help but notice the sufferings of others. It’s everywhere you look. I see the murder of an individual by an excessively brutal police officer and the societal upheaval that has wrought. I see the COVID-19 patient struggling to stay alive while hooked up to a ventilator. I see the small business owner whose livelihood has been lost because of forced shutdowns. I see churches unable to meet together and share fellowship with one another.

What I see more than anything is fear. People are afraid. They are afraid of the police; afraid of COVID-19; afraid of not being able to make ends meet. This fear is very real. I do not deny that I have felt it myself, even in the midst of all my creature comforts. But there is a better way.

May I share more Scripture with you? “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7). Christian, you have a spirit of power within you; a spirit of love; a spirit of self-control. You do not have a spirit of fear. You are not called to live in a perpetual state of being scared. I would like to remind you why.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate use from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39

If you’re like me, sometimes you’ll see a Scripture someone has posted and skim it because you’ve read it before and you want to get to what the person has to say about it. Stop. Go back and start from the beginning. Read every word. Savor what Paul shares with us here. Look closely at what he says, the fervor with which he writes, the careful choice of vocabulary, the poetic rhythm of this amazing outpouring of wisdom from God. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Now let me encourage you myself: cling to this. Hold fast to it. Put aside your uncertainty, your worries, your fears and know that Jesus Christ is for you. God will graciously give you all things. He has already given us his Son! How could he not give us everything else we need? God has justified us, made us righteous before him. There is no one now left to condemn us, because Jesus himself sits at our Father’s right hand, interceding on our behalf. Nothing will separate us from Christ’s love. Not the police, not the coronavirus, not the loss of our livelihoods, not the closing of our churches. Nothing. We overwhelmingly conquer all of these things through Christ.

I admit that I am speaking to you from a place of comfort. I cannot imagine your individual circumstances. I do not know what all is happening in your lives. But I do know that my Redeemer lives. He is for us. Among other things, this means that justice will come, if not in this life, then in the life to come. Do not fret when you see injustice in this world; Jesus Christ, the God of justice, will set the record straight when he returns to judge the world.

It also means that we need not fear what may happen to us on this earth. Our bodies are corruptible flesh; when we die, we will be buried and turn to dust, just like every other human being who has lived and died. But we have a hope that one day our bodies will be resurrected and be made incorruptible. For this reason, we need not fear famine or disease or death. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

I hope that this is somewhat encouraging. I see so much turmoil and uncertainty and pain. While I may not feel it as viscerally as some, Jesus is both your comforter and mine. Cling to him. Cling to the promises of his Word. And then share that hope with others. If you’ve made it this far, I applaud you. Thanks for reading my ramblings. God bless you.

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