If God is For Us...
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He alos justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:28-31
When a person becomes a Christian and they are striving to do the very best that they can to live the kind of life that the Lord wants them to, sooner or later they learn that they are going to be confronted with difficulties and challenges that are unique to being a child of God. And, indeed, there are burdens that we have to bear; things that, if we had never become Christians, we would never have to endure.
Some of the things that the Bible speaks about which we invite into our lives by choosing to follow the Lord are things like: Ridicule from people who don't care for anything concerning the Lord. People of the world don't care about the values and the allegiance that we pay to our Heavenly Father. The apostle Peter wrote, "In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you" (I Peter 4:4).
We may experience the loss of friends just because we want to now be pure. We want to live a life of purity and righteousness which is acceptable to the Lord; we want to maintain our integrity as children of God. And sometimes what happens is that the people who we use to associate with don't have those kinds of values; they don't share those things. So consequently, they have the tendency to no longer want to have anything to do with us.
Some will lose their jobs, simply because they want to be faithful to the Lord. And I have known of people, because of certain commitments that they have made, who have been forced to find different employment.
It could be the emotional pains that come from divisions that arise within the family unit. (See Matthew 10:34-35). Jesus spoke about that when He had revealed the truth that He did not come to bring peace on earth, but instead He brought a sword. He plainly stated that there would be division among family members, and many times that is what happens to us.
And all of us can relate to the inward struggle that we have to go through in this life - the fact that there are things that tempt us, and sometimes we give in to the temptation. And then what happens is that we feel absolutely horrible (as we should) for betraying our heavenly Father. Every Christian goes through that sooner or later.
Can you relate to any of these things that I have mentioned? Do these kinds of things make it difficult sometimes to be a child of God and to live the way in which the Lord wants us to live? They certainly do.
When these things happen to us, what actually is occurring is a severe test of our faith. And these challenges and difficulties in life our either going to make us, or they are going to break us (as far as our relationship with God is concerned).
Through His word, God has revealed many things that will help us to pass these tests of faith, but perhaps the most simplest and fundamental help is the realization that God is on our side - the truth that "we are His children and He is our Father" reminds us that He is always standing there with us. Just like those of you who are parents, when your children are going through difficulties you understand that these are things that they have to experience in their life in order to grow up; to be people who are profitable, and to learn lessons that are vital to their maturity. But as parents, you are standing behind them, not condoning their mistakes, but helping them through the consequences of those mistakes; you are for your children! And in a supreme way, God is the same. God is for us, and that provides us then with strength that we need to overcome.
Some people seem to have the idea that God is like a wicked father who can't wait for his children to misbehave so that he can punish them. But that discription in no way fits our Creator. Although our heavenly Father is a just God, and will punish those who do not know Him or obey the gospel of His Son (see: II Thessalonians 1:8-9), the Scriptures plainly reveal that God is also a loving Father, who does not want to see any perish: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9).
In the 8th chapter of the book of Romans, the apostle Paul speaks about the whole concept of salvation. He writes about this beginning in the 29th verse, saying: "For whom God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." But then notice what he says in 31st verse, where he asks this question: "What then shall we say to these things?"
These "things" that Paul is talking about are the things that he had just enumerated: God's foreknowledge, and the predestination (the fact that God had predestined how salvation and reconciliation would be accomplished for each soul that obeys and abides in the words of His Son), and the fact that we have been called, and we have been justified...and glorified... Paul emphatically asks: "WHAT ARE WE GOING TO SAY TO THESE THINGS??? ...and here is the answer:
"If God is for us, who can be against us?"
In the context of Romans, chapter 8, the apostle Paul wants us to think about the things that God has done for us and continues to do for us; especially when it comes to the salvation of our souls. And he wants us to think about these things in comparison to the misfortunes and the difficulties that we may have to go through - to understand that there is NOTHING that can defeat God's purpose for us, if we maintain our faith in Him. For he says: "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).
By John Hagenbuch
From Expository Files 12.5; May 2005