Romans 8:18-39: Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
March 13, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Few words in all of Scripture are more precious than these. Such profundity; but also such practicality. And all encased in a beautiful frame that resonates with the power of the gospel. What can we learn from these words?
First (v. 18-25), when we suffer, we should compare our sufferings with future glory. When we do that, we are enabled to wait for this glory patiently. Paul’s counsel is not simply to “grin and bear it.” He is not telling us to be a stoic. He is advising us to look up and look ahead, and gaze at the incomparable glory that is to come for God’s children. Look there! And even the worst of sufferings – and Paul knew of what he spoke, for he had suffered much – are incomparable when we contrast it with that glory that is to come.
Second (v. 26-27), when we suffer, we should lean on the work of the Spirit in our hearts and minds. The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. Even when we do not know what to pray – and there is perhaps no condition more common than feeling unable to pray when you are suffering greatly – the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. These are groans without words; that is, there is a special ministry of the Spirit to take our stumbling, sometimes blank, silent, somewhat fragile, frankly sometimes useless prayers, and turn them into intercession that storms heaven’s gates. Lean on the Spirit, oh suffering one. Ask him for help. He is the Helper. He is your Helper.
Third (v. 28-30), when we suffer, we should remind ourselves of the purpose that God has for us. There is no worse feeling when we are suffering than that that suffering has no point or no purpose. Someone has said that when you have a why, you can put up with any what. But the Christian has a why, a purpose, that runs beyond and above all, even the worst, suffering. Note what Paul is not saying: he is not saying that the suffering feels good. Or even that God feels close in suffering always. But he is saying that there is an unshakeable purpose. This is all certain, so definite, so already decided, that he can – perhaps the boldest tense ever written – describe us as already, in a sense, “glorified”: because from the vantage point of heaven we are already glorified, and we will definitely be glorified. Remind yourself then of the overall purpose of God.
Fourth (v. 31-39) and finally, in the words of the dramatic and famous climax to this chapter, when we suffer, we should fight with all our breath to declare the triumph of the gospel that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Not this suffering. Not this pain. Not this betrayal. Not this demon. Not this hate. Not this slander. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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