Continuing from yesterday’s journal from Romans 5…
I don’t know why, but I doubt. I find myself doubting that God loves me.
Lord, you know this is a reoccurring weakness in my heart. Its not that I doubt you love me in the grand scale. No, I am quite set on that. But for some reason, I struggle to make that connection at the daily, practical level. It is actually embarrassing that I doubt that you love me. Shameful even.
I wonder how much of the spirit of Asaph I really do have in me. When things go wrong (or should I say that when my little kingdom of comfort, (which is a kingdom of one) I can quickly see my heart shift gears into a diatribe like Asaph in Psalm 77…(verses 7-9):
“Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”
This set of questions may only last a few minutes, or sometimes even less. They are never spoken out loud, it is a conversation that goes on in my heart, my mind. It is my internal battle that I really have no part in fighting in. It is not a battle that should be fought, yet it rages on. The peace treaty has already been signed (Romans 5!), and yet I carry on as if I can fight and win a battle that I somehow have to earn God’s love. Silly, since earning God’s love is not only, not possible, but ludicrous to even attempt to try given the difference between me and him, my sin and his holiness.
Paul brings in all home. God’s Word corrals me in every time with the truth of his word, the truth of what he has already done….and why he did it.
Thank you Jesus that I have these kinds of words from you, words of victory….
- I have been justified by faith
- I have peace with God the Father
- I have access in the holy of holies (a standing before a holy God)
- I have joy and can rejoice because hope is secured
- I can rejoice in the trials, the suffering because you are completing in me what you started
- In fact, as Paul says, I am appointed to suffering (1 Thessalonians 3:3)
Lord, you do not end there. Yes, you give me truth to grasp on to, to cling to, but in your mercy, you open up the flood gates and tell me why you accomplished my redemption and justified me through your Son. Paul’s thoughts in verses 5 and 6 are connected to the hope, the rejoicing, the purpose of suffering….
“and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
It seems that Paul also gets to this. It always takes us here. This is his “high place” that drives him as he moves into the realm of the love of God that is demonstrated on the Cross.
God’s love poured into our hearts….through the Holy Spirit, and then Paul shows us that love in the most real terms possible.
While I was weak (well, before I ever existed), Christ came to die for me. While still sinners, Christ died for us. His love crossed the enemy lines.
Jesus demonstrates such a foreign concept of love. He died for the ungodly. No return or response is demanded, there is no paying him back because the ungodly would never do that. This foreign love is set apart from the way that we know how to love. Absolute grace. Absolutely on the merit of Jesus, not mine. We are unable and unwilling to pay him back – yet he poured out his love by coming and taking my place, my punishment, my penalty for sin, and placing his wrath upon his only Son. Jesus didn’t just make it all go away. He paid the price.
On a grand scale, it is settled, God loves the world. At a practical level, it is settled. Jesus died for me because he loves me. He loves me when I fail. He loves me when I hurt. He loves me when I am in the valley. He loves me when I am broken, scared, scarred, and even when I don’t feel loved.
God does not mete out his love for us in tiny measures; he “has poured” (ekcheo) it into our hearts. Paul connects this love to hope. Hope that comes from knowing that we are made right with God, have peace with God. And hope that comes from knowing that tribulations are producing in us exactly what God promised he would do through salvation.
This hope will not will not disappoint (does not put us to shame) because his love has already been poured out. Sending his Son to die for people who refused to worship him (the basic connotation of “ungodly”) reveals the magnitude of God’s love for us. Sure, for a friend one might give up his life, but God did it in a situation when no one else would. No one dies for his enemy. No one suffers for ones who are in rebellion against him.
The love of God goes beyond our concept of love because his love is unique. This is the love that he loves me with every day. I don’t have to “feel” it for it to be validated. It was validated on the cross and in the resurrection three days later!
Thank you Jesus!