Sunday, March 24, 2013

Even If...

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. ~ Romans 8:35-7
A while ago it hit me. Paul lists all the many ways people can suffer and emphatically proclaims that off course these sufferings cannot come between you and His love -- how silly, how absurd (I bet Paul was thinking here)! Yet, doesn't everyone think the opposite? I always hear from people that if God loves them, then He won't let them endure

trouble -- your house burns down, your car is stolen, you lose your wallet

hardship -- you break your back, your loneliness is choking, you grow paranoid

persecution -- you get sent to jail or fined or lose your job because you won't keep quiet, you are locked in a room for months, you are beaten or burned

famine -- hunger (if Jesus loves me, surely He will send me food and not let me go hungry)

nakedness -- no clothes, no warmth (if Jesus loves me, surely He will provide me with clothes to wear)

danger -- drug-users keep wanting money, your children are being threatened, thieves are prowling

sword -- machetes take your limb, guns permanently kill nerves, acid burns your eyes and takes your vision.

"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." We are always one step away from death; we live in the danger zone. We are targets, for His sake.

To me, Paul is saying, "Christ loves you -- even if you have problems, even if things are hard, even if you are persecuted, even if you are hungry, even if you are cold, even if you are in danger, even if a gun is in your face, even if death is knocking at the door..."

Jesus loves you, no matter what you feel or what hard thing is in your life, Because having a nice, comfortable, easy life is not the measure of His love for you. Jesus going to the Cross for you is. [We actually believe that more hardship is God's way of loving us.]

When Paul says that we are more than conquerors in all these things, he is not saying we command the hard thing away (poof, be gone), and conquer it by getting rid of it. He is saying that no matter what happens to my body, nothing can really touch me (my spiritual blessings, my eternal fate, my joy, my peace... real things). Prove yourself a conqueror by not letting it disturb your trust in Christ and His love for you.

I am more than a conqueror in every hard thing. And, even though it may not look like it, Jesus loves me.