Is God For Me?

Day’s Readings: Psalm 89:1-8, Romans 8:18-39, Hosea 10:1-11:11
Meditational Reading: Romans 8:31b-39
Pastor's Ponderings Illustration31b If God is for us, who can be against us?
32  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
33  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
36  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
39  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Most people want to think that God loves them.  Most people think that God loves them.  Most people want God to love them but they could care less about God and his will for their lives.  Over the years I’ve met people who have another problem:  The aren’t sure whether or not God loves them.  It eats them up.  People have asked me, “How do you know that God loves you?”  They often ask that question in the face of evil or adversity.

I live in Connecticut; I still live in the shadow of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.  The pastor of our church in Newtown buried two of the little victims of that massacre.  Living in the shadow of Sandy Hook, how do you know that God loves you?  Paul tells us that God is for us.  But how do we know God is for us.  How do I know that God is for me, for me personally?

Biblical Christianity is not a pie-in-the-sky-in-the-sweet-bye-and-bye type of faith.  Biblical Christianity does not look at the world through rose colored glasses.  Biblical Christianity takes an honest assessment of the world; it sees the evil in the world; it see the evil that people perpetrate upon other people; it sees the hurt and heartache that are part and parcel of this thing called life.

In the face of evil, in the face of adversity, in the face of hurt and heartache, how do I know God loves me?  How do I know God is for me?  Some people would say that you know is for you when things are going right.  And you know that God’s against you when things go bad and bad things happen to you.  Paul confront the reality of knowing God’s love for us in the meditational verse.  And in that meditational verse we find the basis of God’s love for us.

The first thing we confront in this passage is that our outward circumstances are not any indication of God’s attitude toward us, of God’s love for us.  Paul is sure that nothing in all of creation (read this passage again) can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!  Even in the midst of the deepest, darkest despair, we can know that God has not abandoned us, that God has not turned his back upon us, that God loves us, that God is for us.  How do we know that?  In verse 32, Paul assures us that we can know God’s love because he gave his Son up for us all.  How do I know God loves me (even when all the outward evidence says he doesn’t)?  He gave his one and only Son as the sacrifice for my sins.  That (and only that) is the only way I know that God loves me.

Paul also confronts us with a second thing in these verses.  Our God knows what we experience in this life — the bad things and all!  He know what we experience because he experience it all himself in the person of Jesus, our God-in-human-flesh.  In the midst of our hurt and heartache, when we are tempted to believe that God has turned his back upon us, we have the assurance that God knows, personally knows, what we experience.  He knows because he is the God who voluntarily laid aside his godly might and power and became truly human just like us.  He experienced everything we experience (except for sin).  He know what we go through, especially in those deep, dark days of despair.  Why?  Because he experienced it all for himself.  I write this on Maundy Thursday, the night of Jesus’ betrayal, the night he sweat drops of blood in Gethsemane–so great was his torture, so great was his torment.  Yes, Jesus knows what I experience because he experienced it all himself and he is there to aid me and strengthen me in my time of need.

Evil things happen.  Evil things happen to us.  But even in the face of evil we have God the Holy Trinity’s own assurance that he still loves us and that nothing in all of creation will be able to separate us from that love.  Why?  Because that love is anchored in Jesus and his suffering and his cross and his death and his resurrection.  Looking to the cross and the empty tomb I know that God loves me and will never stop loving me.  Looking to that same cross and empty tomb I receive God’s own strength to carry me through the days of darkness and despair because I know God loves me.  Jesus is the proof of that love!

If you would like to hear some of Pastor Kerner’s sermons, you can visit the sermon archive at: https://gslcsuffield.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/sermon-archive-2010-2011/  The sermon archive is normally updated every Sunday afternoon.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 585 South St. (Rt. 75), Suffield CT 06078 USA  www.gslcsuffield.com  If you would like to support this ministry, send your offering to the church.

If you found this article particularly helpful, would you share it with your friends and acquaintances on your social networking websites?  This is an easy way to use the internet as an evangelism tool.  You can friend me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/james.kerner.  Thank you for considering this.

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