Years ago I remember sitting in a dimmed sanctuary listening to a musician perform a song written to Romans 8. And I remember thinking it was the most beautiful song I’d ever heard.
Whenever I hear a message on this passage the tune comes to mind and I start singing to myself, “Who shall separate us from the love of the Lord…trials, tribulations, perils, famine, or sword?”
Romans 8 is so refreshing and inspirational. However, a couple years ago my family experienced a tragedy, which caused me to question my beliefs about the promises in Romans 8 and in the sovereignty of God. Did I believe He worked all things for good? Really?
Through this experience I learned there are no words that will take away grief, none. Nothing makes you feel better. When bad things happen your world stops making sense. If you’re not careful, you spiral into crisis mode.
For me, crisis mode meant I stopped any thinking or planning about the future and focused on getting through the day. I accomplished what I needed to and left everything else for…later. For after the storm passed, I guess.
In these times it was tough to read the words in Romans 8 and find any sort of hope in them. The words in Romans 8:28 were especially difficult.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
My response to this verse was more along the lines of, “Why would God let this happen?” rather than “This verse gives me refreshment.”
We have all experienced the emotional roller coaster—one moment we're on top of the world and the next in a pit of despair. It's actually amazing how fast the transition is. We can go from absolute trust in God to doubting His love at all.
I’m thankful for Chuck Swindoll’s words on this subject in his sermon Providence Made Practical. Although tragedy is just one small part of his talk I found it profound. Chuck says it’s normal to ask God why things happen—we can’t help but ask. But what we have to realize is all we’re seeing is a tiny thimble of God’s plan…while God is looking at an ocean. His perspective is complete, and despite the tragedy and trials in our lives, He is working in our lives and it WILL ultimately work for the good of His children.
The key here is perspective. In crisis mode it’s tough to focus on anything but the immediate, but if we can pull ourselves out of the pit and gain some perspective—God hasn’t abandoned us and He is continuing to work in and through us for our good—we will be better equipped to trust Him. Even if we don’t understand why He permitted our situation to happen.
In times of great stress we need a solid foundation to fall back upon. It is in those moments of panic and fear our training kicks in and we realize even though we feel lost and alone, it's not truth. God is with us. God cares for us. God will lead us and guide us.
A verse I find myself relying on is Joshua 1:5 “I will not fail you or abandon you.” It's such a simple promise and yet if I can manage to remember it in the midst of crisis, it helps me look up.
Of course life isn’t so simple, but when our faith is built on a firm foundation we are that much stronger when the storms of life beat against us (Luke 6:46–49).
The next time you find yourself doubting God's love and hand on your life, repeat Joshua 1:5 to yourself and know they're God's words for you. “I will not fail you or abandon you.”