No challenge is greater than God’s love – 27 October 2022
By Ewald Schmidt
Every person faces challenges along the journey of life. Some people’s paths are more difficult than others’ are. These challenges and difficulties can overwhelm us. I have heard the questions of believers: did God forget me? Is he punishing me? Does he not love me anymore?
Paul lists the dangers that the normal believer in Rome, in the 1st century, had to deal with daily. There was much suffering and pain. Their civil rights were taken away and they were excluded from commerce. No one was allowed to sell them a loaf of bread. They were not allowed to work. They were suffering famine in the midst of Rome’s abundance. They were also living in constant fear. The fear of the knock on the door deep in the night, of violent arrests. The fear of torture and public execution would have weighed heavily on them. The nakedness referred to was the fear of public humiliation, being tortured and thrown to wild beasts in the arenas. The Romans loved doing this by stripping their victims naked, increasing their sense of shame and humiliation. It was dangerous following Christ in Rome, in the 1st century AD.
Our challenges, as Christians today, may look a whole lot different than then. What are the things that make it hard to follow Christ in your own life? It is good to list those challenges in your faith journal. We have challenges, like the ridicule we face from aggressive atheists. It is difficult to be a disciple of Christ in these hurried times we are living in. We are, sometimes, just so tired of going on, trying to survive and making ends meet. Suffering in the form of sickness or challenges at work, relationships going through tough times, these bring questions in our minds that we cannot always find an easy answer for.
When writing our challenges down, we take it to the Lord in prayer. Paul asks in today’s verse, what of these things can separate us from the love of Christ? What challenge on this earth could be greater than the ability of the Creator of heaven and earth to handle it? What could be stronger than our Abba Father in our lives?
In Romans 8:36, Paul quotes from Psalm 44:22. It is good to read these songs of lamentation sometimes. When we are going through tough times, lamentation songs remind us that we are welcome to share our burdens with God, without fear. We might even argue a little with God! Psalm 44:23-24 asks of God: “Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever. Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?” It sounds like a dangerous thing to talk like this to God, yet it is in the Psalms for us. We learn to be honest with God, even daring to bring our deepest pain and doubt to God in prayer. From there on, we learn to trust God again, as verse 26 concludes with in this psalm: “Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.”
Do you see what Paul is busy doing? On the one side of the weighing scale, he packs all our suffering that we are enduring today. On the other side, he measures the love of Christ. Which is greater? God’s love for his child will always win!
Prayer: Lord, when I am going through tough times, I also would love to sing songs of lamentation. Like David, I want to ask, do you not see my suffering, the injustice done to me? Then, your love comes and overwhelms me, reminding me that I am yours. Thank you that no earthly challenge will ever separate me from your love! Amen