I hope you have been enjoying this series of articles about how we can trust the Lord, have courage in the Lord, and how we can be the church in difficult times. I think we can all agree that some things in life are scary. When we think about what makes them scary it often has to do with pain, loss, disappointment, or failure.
For example, a student might fear a test coming in the morning. It is not, of course, due to the fact that the test will injure him. It is that the test is going to expose his knowledge or lack of knowledge. This in turn could result in academic or parental discipline.
Diseases or sicknesses cause fear because they show our weakness. In some cases, we fear the end result of the sickness and in other cases we fear the struggle, the treatment, or the lasting effects. One of my friends told me, with reference to beating cancer, “They about killed me to cure me.”
As a final example, when things like the coronavirus shut down countries, work, trade, and hinder commerce it is a threat to the way we do life. Imagining something different is scary.
Rather than say to all of us that we should not be scared, or we should deal with it, I think there is a better solution.
Acknowledge the fear. One month from now this could be one big fuss over something very small or it could be the tip of the iceberg with much more to follow. There is nothing ungodly about acknowledging the “enemies” that seem stronger than we are. What is ungodly is when we allow the fear to rule, to dominate, and bring us to focus our attention more on the cause of fear rather than on Christ who comforts and secures us in our fear.
In this article I want us to consider Romans 8:31-39 and some of the ways that the love of God speaks directly to our fear:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NASB)
#1. God’s love ensures that His promises to us will be fulfilled
In v. 31 the text says that if God is for us who can be against us. That is an interesting question in light of the many who opposed Paul or other believers. I believe his main point is not that believers are immune to opposition. Rather, Paul means that there is no overcoming power that is capable of keeping God’s promises from coming true. His promises are “yes” in Jesus and they always will be. In fact, he adds evidence for his statement. Paul explains that if the Father gave His Son, then He will surely give us all (that He has promised).
I find that my fear takes its proper place when I remember that nothing can stand in the way of the Lord delivering on every promise that He has made.
Yes, I am planning to buy a package of toilet paper when I find one, and yes I am planning to purchase an extra bag of rice, but at the end of the day I can be absolutely secure knowing that the Lord’s promises regarding His care for me are just as secure as they were long before this health crisis.
The articles in this series are discussing various promises that the Lord has made – promises of a new identity, a new purpose, a new citizenship, a new way of life, and a new future. Be sure to read each one in the series. Coronavirus cannot take any of those promises away and neither can anything else.
#2. God’s love ensures that Jesus saved you and currently intercedes for you
I admit, Romans 8:34 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. All genuine believers in Christ move from a condemned status to a justified status. Praise the Lord! As if that news was not enough, we also learn that Jesus makes intercession for His children while at the right hand of the Father. This is such an encouragement.
Many of us have requested our friends pray for something. We have also reported how the Lord strengthened us in that circumstance. But, oh, how much better to know that Jesus is interceding!
He prays for your strength, protection from the evil one, and even your needs as you suffer. While our prayers may or may not be according to the will of the Lord, Jesus’ always are. We know with confidence that Jesus will pray and that He will pray according to the Father’s will.
This provides stability in uncertainty. It provides a place to put our feet and a place to lay our heads. It provides comfort and rest even when there are concerns on our minds. We can go to bed at night with a calm peace that today’s trouble was enough, and we can wake up knowing that there is grace for the new day as well.
It also encourages us to love the Lord. The more we see, appreciate, and value the Lord’s love for us, the more we will be inclined to love Him in return.
#3. God’s Love through Christ ensures that there is security in our relationship with Jesus
The questions of v. 35 and the statement in vv. 38-39 make it perfectly clear that the calamities in life can never, ever, ever, ever disrupt our status in Christ.
My job could be at risk, my health could be at risk, my security in relationships could be at risk, but my status with my Savior is firmly fixed. There is no created thing — nothing — that can separate me from Christ.
God’s love is too strong to be broken by the mere created order. No other form of security is capable of making that claim.
Friends, you have good reason to take the virus seriously. You have good reason to expect some significant impacts to your life as a result of the virus. You have good reason to make appropriate preparations. You have good reason to love others by practicing social distancing. You have good reason to care for your physical body. You have good reason to be concerned about the elderly and the weak.
However, you also have reason to trust, to live with courage, and to love others knowing that God’s love for His children ensures all His promises will be fulfilled: that Christ saved you and continually intercedes for you, and you have security in your relationship with Jesus.
Buy a few items, wash your hands, pray for the sick, and rejoice in the security you have because God loves His children.