This past Wednesday evening and Sunday morning in worship we continued in our Summer Sermon Series through the book of Romans. If you have missed any of the summer series you can always listen online here.
I have loved journeying through the message and themes of Paul’s letter to Rome these past weeks. Paul’s theology is both deep and wide as he unpacks the reality of God’s love for us and our absolute need for both salvation and transformation.
The section of the letter we studied this past week surfaces the topic of living with joy in the circumstances of a broken and fallen world. In verse 36 of chapter 8, Paul lists many of the sufferings that the early church knew well; trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword….
That list is not a hypothetical one. Paul is talking about the very sorts of things the early church is experiencing. And Paul’s list is not exhaustive, it is indicative. We could certainly add to it the specific sufferings we are experiencing. What are the realities of the suffering and brokenness of your world?
Persecution, famine, nakedness, cancer, murder, molestation, addiction, rape, theft, racism, poverty, injustice, the death of a child, adultery, pornography, job loss, physical abuse, neglect, whatever it might be that is a destroyer of life in your world, whatever it is that causes suffering, you can add it to Paul’s list in Romans 8.
And yet, Paul describes a kind of joy that can exist concurrent with suffering and can even overpower the circumstances of our lives. Paul frames our circumstances within the larger framework of eternity and God’s work.
Those things that cause suffering are bad things. But, because of the work of God in Jesus Christ, even the bad things in our lives will turn out for good. God will take every bit of every thing in our sufferings in this life, and God will work them all together for good, in the totality of God’s work.
Paul writes in verse 28:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
A more literal translation of verse 28 might read:
“To those loving him, God works together, all things, for good.”
The promise of Jesus Christ is that the bad will be overwhelmed by the goodness of God, in the fullness of God’s story, and in the fullness of God’s glory.
So go live today in the joy and the confidence that, whatever else might be true in this life, this is also true: God loves you, and there is nothing in all creation that can separate you from that love.
Grateful to belong with you to such a good God,