Thursday, June 29, 2006

Romans 5:1-11

Our passage today begins with the word, “Therefore,” pointing backwards to everything Paul has said so far in Romans. Therefore--in light of our sinfulness and the consequences it has for our lives that we are unable to make right on our own; in light of the fact that God still forgives and redeems us, offering us the free gift of salvation not because we deserve it, earn it, or have worked hard for it, but simply because of the goodness of God's grace -- therefore in light of all this we enjoy the benefits listed in the following verses from living the life of faith.

One of those benefits is peace with God. And when we have peace with God we have access to God and He has access to us. We can go to him for strength to stand and He pours his love into our hearts. That’s a winning combination that let’s us face whatever life throws at us and find a way through it where we come out better than when we went in. Think about that a moment. Do you believe it?

I’m not being simplistic or naïve here. Life can be, and sometimes is, incredibly difficult and painful. Some situations are so heart breaking we just can’t imagine anything good about them at all. I don’t see any way around that.

But the promise of these verses is that in spite of all that, God will bring us through—scarred, maybe, a bit battered and beat-up perhaps—but not beaten. He will bring us through. Even more than that, God will be at work in us through hard times, using them to develop our character so that we are more like Him.

And that gives us hope, because we don't look at the passing problem but at how the problem can build something in our lives that will last forever: integrity, patience, the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self control), the very characteristics that marked the life of Christ.

So, then, as we allow God to work in us, even in the difficult times, we receive benefits such as peace with God, access to God, the ability to rejoice because we have a hope to hold onto, and the perseverance that comes when we know even our problems have a purpose--that God can and will redeem even the worst things that happen to us in life if we’ll let Him.

Sometimes the Bible faces us with hard questions and great challenges for living. But today, I think these verses are simply meant to encourage us. As trite as it may sound, whatever you and I are going through, God is still in control, is still at work, is still achieving His good purpose.

Take heart, dear friends. Take heart.

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