I’ll be honest. The kids and I struggled with this chapter last night before throwing in the towel halfway through. Paul is awesome, but the format of the arguments over the past few chapters has been difficult to explain, verse-by-verse or concept by concept, to the kids.
We gave it another go together tonight, though, and I’m glad we did. The feeling of comfort when I read these verses had me in tears. I could give you a verse by verse like I did with my kids, but instead I think I’ll share the bits of Romans 8 that hit me the hardest — or warmed my struggling heart, you might say. My emphasis added:
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Man, patience is NOT my virtue. It’s a big one I’ve got to work on, which is probably why I’m given so much opportunity to do so. When I’m really just as broken as can be, and don’t even know what to ask for anymore; when I’m trusting that understanding will come eventually, but not knowing what to do in the meantime, it is comforting to know that the Lord understands my heart and my needs even better than I do. That’s not to say I shouldn’t bother asking for the help (not knowing what to pray for is no reason to bail on praying in the first place), but it gives me peace to know that when I don’t even know where to start, the Lord knows the end from the beginning, and how to make all things, including my trials, work together for good.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be (prevail) against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
(“Prevail” is from the JST. Sure, people and things and causes can be against us, but they won’t win.) Heavenly Father really will freely bless us. The trials themselves are even a blessing. Case in point:
Recently I was stressed out of my mind. My ex was in the hospital having suffered a brain aneurysm. The chances of survival and going on to live a normal life with those things, particularly when the patient can’t even talk by the time they’re admitted, are not very good. My kids were facing the very real possibility of losing their dad, or losing him as they know him. Yeah, he was a jerk to me, but they love him dearly anyway. And as one of my friends put it, “We’ve already progressed as far as we can with perfect parents.” I know he wasn’t perfect, but being rather suddenly faced with the idea of his dying young? That was hard for me, let alone for my sweet pumpkins.
So I did what I could to help them through. Add that to the stresses I deal with on a normal day-to-day basis, and it’s no surprise that my back screwed up completely this past Sunday. I didn’t “injure” it per se, but while I was turning to hug Ethan, it’s almost like a string snapped in my shoulder, and from there the pain just spread til I couldn’t even walk or use my arm. But one friend took my kids to and from church for me, told the bishop I wouldn’t be leading the music, and made us a meal. Another brought cookies, an ice-pack, and some kind words. My mom brought food, too – and put it in the freezer for us since dinner was already there. She massaged my neck and back and even fed me soup. Another friend dropped by with a card with a generous gift inside, understanding my stress was only compounded by our scrimpy budget. She rubbed my back, too, and also called another friend and neighbor who is a chiropractor. He came over and helped me, too. My home teacher and bishopric counselor arrived shortly after that. I was face-down on the ground at that point, but I had to laugh when Mary opened the door and said, “Come on in and join the party!” They’d come to give me a healing blessing, but my dad and brother had already come over to take care of that. My visiting teacher took the kids to school the next morning, and another friend picked them up that afternoon. She also brought dinner the next day. Countless others called and checked on me, too, offering whatever was needed.
As the kids tucked me in (a bit of a role reversal given the circumstances, which also encouraged them to hurry off to bed) they sat down beside me and commented, “You know mom, it’s a good thing you hurt your back. What a great way to see just how loved and blessed we are!” Other friends have helped me all along with notes and texts and phonecalls and whatever else was necessary to help me pull though. I am grateful to all of you. Would I feel such gratitude were it not for these trials? I wish I could say yes, but I do know now, and I will remind myself often.
This last section had a bit of a strange spot that left me somewhat hesitant to post the whole thing:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I’m currently revisiting Psalms in my personal study, giving it a solid effort for the first time since I was a teenager. I’m going slowly and certainly haven’t hit 44 yet, so that bit about being killed all day kind of caught me off guard. What it’s saying there, of course, now that I take a minute to think about it, is that I really would willingly face death itself for my God if that’s what He required of me.
But I’ve heard the question: if we’d die for God, would we live for Him, too? I think the latter is a bit harder in the long run – at least for those of us who struggle with consistency, and all of my imperfections and failings just might make the angles want to keep me away. But even that, and no matter what’s happened or will happen, nothing can separate us from the love of God because of the intercession of Christ. That, is awesome.
Anyway, I shall make an end of speaking for now. I just didn’t want to forget how those verses hit home for me tonight.