Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As we come to the end of the chapter, we will look again at the question asked at the beginning: how can we be optimistic in a world full of pain?
Paul acknowledges our pain. He doesn’t say that we will avoid suffering, but that our suffering is paralleled by the suffering of Jesus. There is nothing we can experience that Jesus has not also experienced because he suffers with us. When we cry out in despair, “where were you in my agony?” Jesus answers: “in agony.”
In George MacDonald’s Unspoken Sermon “The Consuming Fire,” he writes of the burning bush and the fire atop Mount Sinai where God spoke to Moses and gave the Hebrews the commandments that He knew they could not keep. MacDonald writes that God loved his people so much that he wished to burn away their sins and purify them with fire, but could not because the flesh could not bear the heat and brilliance of his purification. Only one man could withstand the refining heat of God’s judgement…
“The face of him who was bearing and was yet to bear their griefs and carry their sorrows, who is now bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows; the face of the Son of God, who, instead of accepting the sacrifice of one of his creatures [Moses] to satisfy his justice or support his dignity, gave himself utterly unto them, and therein to the Father by doing his lovely will; who suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their suffering might be like his.”
Pain is not the absence of God. He does not abandon us in our sorrow. He loves us so much that he takes on all of our suffering to be with us.
Reason for Optimism 7: God loves us.