The situation you’re in is bad. There’s no way out –that’s how you feel. And there are troubling questions, which are not new to you. The questions are mostly hanging around the edges of your thinking because the center is pre-occupied by hopelessness. But in the night you’ve asked them; in anger you’ve asked them. The doctor’s diagnosis put them in the spot light, as did the lay-off notice from work, or the phone call from the bank, or the verdict of the court. Or the “I want a divorce.” Tragedy has buried you, and you can’t comprehend it. Those questions out on the edge have become like probes of pain.
The questions are certainly not new, but maybe the answers are.
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” [Romans 8:31]
The Bible puts the question out there: Who can be against us? –Well, that’s one question we do have an answer for. It’s cancer, or it’s business failure, or it’s those who have betrayed us. It’s the impossible demands put on us to make things better. Disease, recession, exhaustion. We sense very clearly who it is that is against us. We can list our foes much easier than we can fight them.
Except that’s not the question. The question was not, “Who is against us?,” but rather, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
God is for you. Your parents may be unpleasable; your spouse empty of love; your siblings hostile; “friends” at work now treacherous. Nevertheless, when you cry out in distress, God, the mighty maker of mountains, listens to your voice.
God is for you. In other words, He is definitely for you. It’s not `maybe’ or `might be’ for you. It’s certain that He’s for you. The force of the Bible quotation is “Since God is for us…” In other words, it’s a fact. Furthermore, His commitment to you doesn’t increase if you behave better, and it doesn’t decrease if your behavior deteriorates; His loyalty to you is already total and unconditional. Any question about His irreducible commitment to you was settled when He fastened all your sins to Jesus on the cross. That the Son of God, by His death, has already provided forgiveness for every and all of your sins is a fact. So God is certainly at this moment, tomorrow, and always , for you.
God is for you. Meaning, He’s thumbs up on you. You’re a favorite of His. He goes to all your games. His is the voice cheering you on. And in this present test, or trial, or tribulation that you are in, He is watching you from the finish line, applauding. Too tired to continue? –He’ll carry you. Too discouraged to fight? –He’s picking you up. He won’t leave you for even a moment because He loves you.
God is for you. You! If God’s got a fridge, your picture is on it with a magnet. If He uses a calendar, your birthday is circled in red. If there are park benches in heaven, He carved your name in the wood. It’s personal with Him. Turns out that He really does have a tattoo. Are you still going to be surprised by what it says? –“I have written your name on my hand,” He declares [Isaiah 49:16 NLT].
All right then, understanding yourself to be in God’s hand, who (that can finally make a difference) can be against you? Can death take possession of you? Can disease rob you of life? –No; Jesus is resurrected –your Champion over all these things– and you are His. Can any other terrible circumstance put an end to God’s purpose for your life? –He’s with you; it can’t happen!
Will God stop loving me?
That’s the question. Particularly when fear or depression invades our souls, we have trouble feeling confident. Fear and depression, our emotional response to whatever is going on, make God’s love hard for us to detect with our feelings. When we can’t feel it, we begin to doubt it. “Did I cross the line? Did I fall into that same sin, did I try God’s patience once too many times? Is it because I got falling down drunk last Thursday? I’ve been downplaying it, but is He giving me a message? Did I drift too far? Did He hear me when I cursed Him as I stood by the grave of the child He gave me? Is this payback?”
That’s what we want to know.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” [Romans 8:35].
God answered our question before we asked it. So we would see His answer, He lit the sky with a star. It hung over a manger.
So we would hear His answer, He filled the night with a choir. They sang, “On earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”
So we would believe His answer, He did what no person had ever dreamed. God became flesh and dwelt among us.
God became a human being so that nothing could separate human beings from God. Though you feel hopeless, though with your feelings you cannot detect His love right now, have faith: Christ is with you. It’s not only when you feel better that He will be with you, He’s with you now in the darkness, when you feel like you’re dying. Have faith. Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. And though you are weak, He is strong, stronger than death. You cannot assure victory over your circumstances, but He can, and does. There is always hope, and your hope is Christ. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” [John 16:33].
(This message borrows much from Max Lucado.)