I’m a bookworm, but I don’t buy, keep, or re-read books unless they’re very, very special. Those that merit a permanent place on our bookshelves are the exceptions. Today I want to share an exceptional book with you which my husband and I have just read together. It is truly a keeper!
Miracle on the River Kwai, by Ernest Gordon, is a story of grace in the worst possible of circumstances. Under the most extreme duress, despair and hopelessness were transformed to faith in God, redemption, and selfless love for one another. It began with a few POWs who sacrificially served and even laid down their lives to save others in what had been a dog-eat-dog environment, every man for himself. The power of God changed lives long-term as they served, taught, shared and worshipped with one another for several years as the war raged on. When they were finally released, one of the men said, “I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. It was rough, all right. But I learned an awful lot that I couldn’t have learned at the university or anywhere else.”
When hard times come for me, I pray that God’s grace and power will do the same, shining through the darkness to refine my character in ways that may not be possible through peace time.
Why do we groan? Often it’s an expression of physical or mental anguish. Like when hearing a bad pun (wish I’d thought of that myself!), being hit with bad news, or coping with a migraine….
Groaning appears three times within just five verses in Romans 8—groans coming from three different sources. But these are not all bad news; there is hope in each scenario!
1) All creation groans (verse 22) as it endures its imperfect state, the ravages of sin which holds it captive. But the day will come when it will all be restored to the paradise it was meant to be (verse 21).
2) We who are God’s children through faith in Christ groan (verse 23). We are also enduring the devastation of sin—pain and problems, illness and death. But “we eagerly wait with patience” (I’m afraid I’m more eager than patient!) for the time when our bodies will be fully redeemed and we will enjoy the full benefits that belong to us as citizens of heaven.
3) The Holy Spirit groans as He expresses our cares and needs to the Father (verse 26). We are not alone as we struggle to pray. And the result of the Spirit’s groaning is that God’s will is done in wonderful ways. The outcome is glorious—God working out all things according to His purpose and for our good, glorifying Himself and bringing us to glory as well. This is the triumphant peak of the book of Romans, culminating in a thrilling hymn about God’s powerful, incomparable, enduring love. (Romans 8:28-39)
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these?
If God is for us, who can ever be against us? …
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?
Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity,
or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? …
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ,
who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.
Neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—
not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—
indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
*Section title of Romans 8:18-30 in HCSB version
This was the headline in one paper today. Lance Armstrong’s fall is filed in my mind alongside the disgrace and demise of notorious characters like Saddam Hussein and Khadaffi. And I am reminded of God’s promise/warning that evildoers will surely reap the consequences of their sin sooner or later. Just as sure is His promise that those who are godly and faithful will be rewarded. My problem is that I’m too impatient. It’s hard to wait while evil keeps winning and the innocent are oppressed. Psalm 73 is a great read for times like this.
A TV commentator talking about Lance’s talk with Oprah said that “full confession must precede redemption and forgiveness.” Wow! I wonder if he realized that he was expressing deep spiritual truth as well. I pray that the world won’t just gawk and point fingers at Lance, but that there will be soul-searching to see where we are denying the truth and condemning ourselves. Confession and repentance are a heavy price to pay, and there will be consequences—BUT aren’t redemption and forgiveness well worth it in the long run?
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!