April 24, 2014


Trouble always comes. No matter how hard we try to plan around it, to avoid it, to run from it, our circumstances will not go as we had wanted them to. What matters, then, is what we do with it - how we live within it. We can spend our time laying blame for our suffering - this person or people have wronged me - but that is playing the victim, and playing the victim is no way to live. We can blame God, but God is always with us, the One who will never abandon us, who will even pursue us when we run away. No, playing the victim only damages us further; though we may have been wronged, we may have been hurt by someone else, playing the victim is the way that we continue to hurt ourselves after the fact.

Mourning, on the other hand, is important in times of trouble. When we have lost something significant and have no words that seem adequate, Paul writes that the Spirit will intercede on our behalf, that our groans are too profound for words. As a musician, this makes some sense to me - sometimes, a song comes that has no words, that is only melody and texture or guttural cry, that an emotion can only be expressed without words.

Sometimes, words only confuse the issue.

When we mourn, we work through our grief and begin to let go what we have lost. God looks at a much longer picture than we do; He is always working toward that new creation, a brand new day where all things will be restored. Paul writes that we need to take the same far-reaching perspective. What we go through right now is going to end as only God can end it: with joy.

So why fear what is coming? If God is working for the good of His whole creation, we can endure, we can take each challenge as it comes. This does not mean we don't suffer, this does not mean that we do not mourn; this simply means a shift in our perspective at what is happening. As I wrote earlier, trust does not come easily in such times. But we hope because we don't yet see that end; trust comes because of such times. The very absence of triumph means we must hope, because it means God's not done yet. We have every reason to hope, because our God is so much bigger than our pain; after all, He is the One who created all things. Joy can be had in the midst of the desert.

So what do you see? Do you see the world turning against you, or do you see a chance for God to work? Do you see the overwhelming odds, or the victory that's coming? Do you see only fear and death, or do you see the hope of new life rising from the ashes?
Now I’m sure of this: the sufferings we endure now are not even worth comparing to the glory that is coming and will be revealed in us. For all of creation is waiting, yearning for the time when the children of God will be revealed. You see, all of creation has collapsed into emptiness, not by its own choosing, but by God’s. Still He placed within it a deep and abiding hope that creation would one day be liberated from its slavery to corruption and experience the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that all creation groans in unison with birthing pains up until now. And there is more; it’s not just creation — all of us are groaning together too. Though we have already tasted the firstfruits of the Spirit, we are longing for the total redemption of our bodies that comes when our adoption as children of God is complete — for we have been saved in this hope and for this future. But hope does not involve what we already have or see. For who goes around hoping for what he already has? But if we wait expectantly for things we have never seen, then we hope with true perseverance and eager anticipation.
A similar thing happens when we pray. We are weak and do not know how to pray, so the Spirit steps in and articulates prayers for us with groaning too profound for words. Don’t you know that He who pursues and explores the human heart intimately knows the Spirit’s mind because He pleads to God for His saints to align their lives with the will of God? We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future. You see, He knew those who would be His one day, and He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of a new family of believers, all brothers and sisters. As for those He chose beforehand, He called them to a different destiny so that they would experience what it means to be made right with God and share in His glory. 
So what should we say about all of this? If God is on our side, then tell me: whom should we fear?
[Romans 8:18-31, TVT]

No comments: