What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,
‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Today’s Bible reading is one of a selection that I often offer people at funerals. One thing I’ve heard many people say after a funeral service is that they never knew x, y, or z, about the person who had died. There is much to be said of most people’s lives, and everyone has aspects of their lives that are good, bad, and indifferent.
Where today’s reading comes in is that it reminds us that God wastes nothing of our lives – not the good, not the bad, not the indifferent. What God creates God loves, and what God loves God loves everlastingly.
Nothing of you or me is wasted with God. Nothing – not our joys or our sorrows, not our successes or our failures, not the times when we were on top of the world or the times we lost our way, not the best in us or the worst in us, not the times we were true and authentic to ourselves or the times we betrayed ourselves or someone else, not our ups or our downs, not our conformity or our uniqueness.
Nothing is outside or beyond the presence and love of God. That’s not how many of us see ourselves or each other, as we often take a particular story or event – good, bad, or indifferent – and let that be the defining characteristic of ourselves and each other; and when we do we waste the fullness of life.
That’s not what God does. No one’s life can be captured or defined by a particular moment or event. God neither edits nor wastes any part of our life. Instead, God loves us into the next sentence, paragraph, or chapter of our life’s story. God is always continuing the story of life. God will not end the story of life, and neither should we.
God, when circumstances make our lives hard to understand, remind us that doubt, fear, pain, or strife can snatch us from your hand. Encourage us that it is enough for us to know that your promise and your care are always with us, and wherever we travel on life’s path, you will be there. Amen.
The Revd Dr Michael Hopkins, minister of a group of Methodist and United Reformed Churches, based around Farnham, Surrey.