Read Romans 8:18-39
18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither 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. (NIV)
As we look at the 2nd half of chapter 8, we see the view the early Christians took of suffering. Our modern church has lost this view of our faith. Suffering today is one of the biggest obstacles to people’s faith – either their own or that of ones near and dear to them. Paul teaches this view that suffering is a part of this world and that our faith in Christ does not end it, but helps us to see past it, to see a time coming when suffering will end. Paul reminds us that all of creation has fallen and therefore, we are impacted by that imperfect nature. Paul gives us those wonderful words to help us persevere when says “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” We need to remind ourselves of this promise when the world is not right in our lives.
Then Paul moves to the assurance that in our weakness, God has sent his Spirit to strengthen us. The Spirit helps us communicate our hurts and desires to God. Paul says that Spirit actually does the communication when we don’t or can’t find the words to pray. This is why it is important to us to take time to pray, even when we don’t know what to say. By giving the time, we give the Holy Spirit time to communicate with God who communicates back through the Holy Spirit to help us. I love the way someone once said of this, “It is the divine in us appealing to the divine above us.”
Paul then transitions to speak to how God is working in our lives. He sums it up with the wonderful statement that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” We see two things in this statement. The first is that God is taking all our experiences, good and bad, and working them together for some greater good. God uses all of us and that is wonderful. God can use my bad stuff which is something we don’t think about. But the 2nd point is equally important, this working is only for those who love God. The working things out in our lives is God’s response to our love of him. Bad stuff is going to happen in our course of living. But for those who love God, God is going to use that bad stuff for good. We just have to be on the lookout for when and how.
Paul ends this chapter with the reminder that if God is for us, then who can be against us. It is God who judges and condemns, but if he is on our side, he cannot condemn us. For God to be on our side is to simply give our love and trust to him. And when we do, there is no obstacle that can separate us from his great love. We need to remind ourselves of this when times are good so that in times of trail and pain, we have that base to stand on.
Have you seen in your life where God has directed you to something good you had not expected based on your experiences? Do you pray regularly to God, even when you don’t have the words? What strikes you about God’s love from this passage?
Blessings and Peace
What strikes me is God’s everlasting love for me. Even when I sin and I try not to- I still know God loves me and forgives me. And if God loves us, and he does, who can stand against us? For Jesus died a horrible
death on the cross and paid for our sins. I just watch The Bible , a 11 part series and Jesus death as a human suffering, is beyond my imagination!
What are the UMC’s thoughts on predestination, and do you agree with them? Can our prayers for an unbeliever change anything?
The United Methodist Church does not believe in predestination with the basic concept of predestination meaning that at one’s birth, it has already been decided whether we are going to heaven or hell. The UMC falls on the side of “free will” which believes we make that choice whether to follow God of not. This is where I fall down on. But Scripture also speaks of God knowing our thoughts before we do and I believe that also. And I believe God is working in my life based on the decisions he knows I will probably make because he knows me. But the choice to love God is always mine.
And yes, our prayers for an unbeliever can make a difference. I have seen this in practice with others. While God does not force us to believe, I believe God will lead the right encounters and the right people to come alongside the unbeliever. This is my prayer for many in my life who do not believe. I pray that God sends someone to them that they respect and trust who will share the good news with them and this has happened.