Thursday of Pentecost 9 – Romans 8:28-39 

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? 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.

Is there a better reading for these days? Christians, I think, should print these words of Paul in some bold font and put them on their bathroom mirror or some other prominent spot. They should read them every day. The world would have you forget this. Indeed, our ancient foe wants nothing better than to see us forget what Paul asserts in this magnificent passage in his letter to the Romans.

The world would have us think that our lives do not matter, that God has forgotten about us, or, worse, that God simply does not exist. The world wants to constrain us in the dismal realities of the genes we have inherited, the social constructs which we are forced to live within, and the political and economic forces of a world which seems to be careening toward a cliff. Lately it has subjected us to a virus which we cannot see but which stalks us with a random, suffocating death. The world wants to deny us hope.

Paul draws our eyes upward toward God. He does not deny the reality of the suffering we endure. He says we are at times like sheep to be slaughtered. But he will not allow the suffering to have the last word. In all these things we are conquerors and the world cannot change that. Christ, who died for us, has risen, and is seated at the right hand of God, pleading for us. He has endured suffering so that he might rescue us from suffering. Can any suffering now be the end? No, our trajectory points toward a life rooted in the love of God. That is our goal, our end, our final word. Praise be to God! Nothing shall separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus!

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