Dear Church Family,

We are finishing our four-week series on chapter 8 of Romans in worship this week. It has been called “the most wonderful chapter in the Bible” by many and it is filled with both instruction and hope. The final verses of this chapter are these amazing lines:

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.”

For these weeks we have been reading that line together as part of our Affirmation of Faith at 11am. When you read it out loud it can feel like Paul might be going a little over the top. For goodness’ sake, how many commas are there in the sentence?! Especially if we are struggling with our hope and our faith we can wonder if we can trust Paul’s words here.

Which is why context is so important. Just before these amazing lines Paul has admitted that his life is terribly difficult, that all believers’ lives are difficult: “for your [Jesus’] sake we are being put to death all day long; we are like sheep to the slaughter.” The lines that follow are full of incredible hope that is well aware of suffering. Paul himself has suffered a great deal by this time. He wrote the letter to the Romans probably around the year 57 and, by then, he had been kicked out of Damascus. He had been stoned. He had endured trials, both internally and actual court proceedings.

It is in this context of struggle that Paul writes of what he is convinced. In the middle of suffering he knows that nothing can separate him from God’s love through Jesus. As he faces powers of destruction he knows that nothing can separate him. Even as he comes near death he is certain that nothing can separate him. His faith has brought him such a deep measure of peace and courage, so how could he not go on and on? Bring on the commas!

Today my prayer is that you will repeat this verse that culminates chapter 8 and you will, again, feel the power of its hope and courage for yourself; trusting that nothing, absolutely nothing, you face today or in this life can separate you from God’s love.

Prayer: Great God, I am so limited in my knowledge of you. I can hardly believe the promises you offer for they are so great. Help me to live a life of hope knowing that your love is certain. Help me to live a life of courage, no matter what struggles I face. For you have conquered whatever trial I may face. It is in your holy name I pray. Amen.

Christ’s peace be with you all,