For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 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.
Romans 8:38-39 KJV
This is a scripture I memorized decades ago, and if it meant anything to me then, it meant that God’s love could withstand quite a shellacking. Too true! But I remembered it yesterday, and I realized that I now have a practical knowledge of this promise. Paul was absolutely right, just not the way I thought when I was a kid.
I always imagined that Paul’s long list of potential attacks represented purely external forces. You know, like getting beat up, or thrown in prison, or being manipulated or blackmailed—things like that. I really never imagined that my own mind would be a battleground, that my ears and eyes would be vulnerable to enemy incursion. You don’t think like that when you’re a kid, because the enemy is always “out there” and the good guys win and evil never prospers.
Then you grow up.
I’ve written enough recently for you all to know that I’m swimming through some rough waters these days, but I feel the need to put it in perspective. The pain and grief I experience as a born-again believer is still better than my best days as an unbeliever. And I am acutely aware of that, strangely but consistently, no matter what I’m dealing with or how hard it gets.
I can’t pinpoint when exactly, in my childhood, I lost my fearlessness and understood that I was alone. I only know that wonder gave way to fear, and loneliness became a constant companion. These are not quiet evils, and the noise from my fear-soaked thoughts and calculations was a constant din from which I couldn’t escape. Loneliness was a permanent ache in my heart, and no relationship ever completely soothed it. I grew used to a baseline of pain and couldn’t imagine a life without it.
Then I was born again. I have a B.C./A.D. demarcation in my life, and you do, too—if you’re born again. After March 2011, the baseline of pain was gone. The loneliness was silenced because I was no longer alone. I experienced actual silence and peace and rest. The din faded away.
There is a part of me, the deepest part of me, that is still and quiet and untouched by the worst pain and suffering that I walk through now. The suffering and pain is very real, and the hurt is undiminished, but I am held fast through it all. The life and love of Jesus Christ holds the very heart of me, and I am never alone. I may flail and weep and rage and bleed, but the Eye of the storm is unassailable.
I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t make clear that on my best day before Christ was Lord of my life, I was still alone and still scared. Even when everything went right and I was triumphant in all I wanted, I was lost and I knew it. So my most painful Cross-encounter as a child of God is still a better day (or week or month or year) than all the best that came before.
I share my dealings, even some of the truly painful ones, in part because I don’t think I’m alone in needing encouragement to accept ALL of my life’s story, not just the good stuff. We all need help to be honest with each other! But mostly I reveal the painful Crosses in my life because that’s where I meet God most splendidly, and where He loves me most overwhelmingly. I want everyone to experience Him like this!