We have been separated from one another for over a month now. I don’t know about you, but that is starting to feel like a long time to me. Celebrating the resurrection is a great source of joy for me, as it always is, and there are days my spirits have been lifted as I consider what it will be like when this quarantine is lifted (see my devotion from two days ago).
But these past few days, the quarantine has been more of a grind. Perhaps you have experienced this too. Which is why I was so grateful to be led to these verses from Romans 8 this morning. There are many who consider this passage to be some of Paul’s most inspired writing, and I would be hard-pressed to disagree.
Acts 2 indicates that the church in Rome was likely started by Jews who came to faith at Pentecost and carried the gospel back to Rome. While Paul knew of these believers, he had not yet been to Rome, and he longed to see them face to face. He loved these Roman Christians and felt a bond with them as brothers and sisters in Christ, though he hadn’t even met them yet. He wrote this letter to the Romans while he was still in Corinth, as a way to introduce himself and offer a clear declaration of his faith.
It’s also worth noting that Paul wrote these words to a church that would soon undergo terrible persecution. The hypothetical situations Paul references (Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? Who, then, is the one who condemns? vv. 33-34) would soon become painful realities.
And here is Paul’s message:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
God did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all; will he not graciously give us all things?
Christ Jesus who died for us, but more than that was raised to life, is now at the right hand of God, interceding for us!
We may have to be apart from those we love. We may have to push our cart in one direction and stay six feet apart in the grocery store. We may have to wear masks whenever we venture out. We may be separated from work, from school, or even from our plans for the future. And this may prove to be the tip of the iceberg. But who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Any suffering that we endure, either in the present or the future, should not drive us away from God, but help us to identify with him further, and allow his love to reach us and heal us.
Prayer: Father, we may be separated from each other for a time, but we are grateful that NOTHING can separate us from your love—not now, not ever!