The world is different. Change, which we often think happens slowly or deliberately, has come with speed as well as confusion, doubt, fear, and troubling consequences. Consequences with far, outreaching hands that have the potential to touch every aspect of our lives.
What then shall we say to these things?
How do we both acknowledge sadness, but remain hopeful for the future? How do we strengthen others when our own souls feel weak? How do we relate to hardship if we feel surprisingly untouched by it during this time?
How do we faithfully sit in suffering while not letting it consume us?
There are many paths to choose, many responses we might have, and they might change from sunset to sunrise. Our days are fluid, our emotions run ragged, and we are unsure of what tomorrow may hold, our expectations ever moving.
So what can we do? How do we respond?
God invites us to draw nearer to Him and we should run to Him, not because we are guilted into it or because it is what we are instructed to do but because in the wake of uncertainty and chaos, our God is immovable.
He is not fleeting, indecisive, or passive. He is not hesitant, fickle, or far removed.
He cares so deeply for us that even with our depraved, sinful state, He lowers His ear and allows us to come before Him and speak openly. To bring our woes, our ramblings, even our anger to His throne. To paraphrase Charles Spurgeon, this is far beyond what we deserve, as there is enough sin in even the best prayer we have ever prayed to deserve it being cast aside. Yet, through Christ we are made righteous, and so God listens willingly and holds tight to us, even when we thrash in His arms.
So, in the wake of the confusion and turmoil around us, in the face of isolation and self-imposed exile, let us hear what God says.
Romans 8: 31-39
What then shall we say to these things…
So what do we say to these things? What do we say in the face of adversity, of conflict, of fear? What do we say when it seems like all is crashing down around us and our efforts to harness the chaos come up short? We say:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
There is nothing that can prove too unmanageable, too lofty, or too precarious for the Lord our God. No unseen adversary, no silent foe can surprise or overwhelm the God who allows us the privilege of calling him Father. He reaches out His righteous right hand and declares that He will help us. What chance do our enemies stand?
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? Is it 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?
The Trinity, in once harmonious perfect relationship, willingly disrupted so that we may be saved. The Father did not spare even His own Son. The greatest sacrifice which came at the greatest cost, already endured, completed, and perfected in the Spirit. If God was willing to do that, will He not also willingly give us all things? Who can oppose us? What fear can we have when Christ is there to intercede on our behalf?
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.”
It will be hard. It is hard. The days are long, the nights are dark. Anxiety lurks in the hidden corners of our day-to-day lives, creeping, watching. The enemy waits. Sickness waits. Panic lays just below the surface, ready to bubble over. Will we succumb to these demons?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
We have been given the whole armor of God. We have been made conquerors. We will not be knocked down, not because we are strong on our own, but because we are made strong in Christ. We will fight. We will run the race. We will persevere. We will rejoice. Why?
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 us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing. Nothing will keep us from God. Nothing will separate us. Nothing will tear us away. Nothing from our past. Nothing from our present. Nothing from our future. Nothing in plain sight before us. Nothing hidden from our view. What God has done for us, what sacrifices were made for us, whatever trials and tribulations we may face, Christ has overcome.
So when the long days and the dark nights prove too exhausting or when anxiety’s piercing gaze penetrates too deeply, remember what to say. When the enemy seems ready to pounce or sickness washes over you like an unyielding storm, remember what to say. When panic, or apathy, or guilt, begin to eat away at you, remember what to say.
What then shall we say to these things: If God is for us, who can be against us?