This verse was in my quiet time reading this morning. I've read this verse many times. Encouraged myself with it, encouraged others with it. But because God's Word is actually alive, because it is living and active, it came alive again this morning to me. Anew. Fresh.
The word "distress" jumped off the page. Shall distress separate me from the love of God? Somehow it seems easier to say all the big things--persecution or famine or sword could never separate me from God! I say it loud with my hands high! Of course not!! It's a given! I believe this!
But, I have never experienced persecution or famine or sword.
Distress? Hmmmm. See, that's an everyday thing. Certainly here this week we have had a lot of distress. Packing up and boarding up and getting out anticipating a monster hurricane. God will save me from famine and peril! Of course! I believe it! I believed it as we drove away from our home and prayed over it and left it in God's hands.
But that distress--it seemed to drive away with me. As a companion. A passenger firmly belted in beside me. And while I know that distress will not cause God to separate Himself from me, I cannot say that I don't allow distress to separate me from God. While I could be experiencing His very real great love and peace in a hard moment, distressing--causing myself anxiety--separates me from that love and peace. It causes me to be separate from them because my attention and my focus and my mind and my heart are fully engaged with the distress.
But--good news!--the love and the peace, it's there! After all, when you read on down to verse 38, you see that NOTHING--not one single thing--can separate us from His love. It really is available. It really is waiting.
I'll be working on this the next few days. Want to join me? When distress comes, as it surely will, I hope to recognize it. I hope to say, "I see you there. And you aren't going to separate me from God's love this time. I'm going to march you right on to Jesus and experience the fullness of His love and the reality of His peace despite you. Even in the midst of you. My attention will no longer be super-glued to you."
That is my hope, anyway. I know it's possible. Because Jesus loves me this I know, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so. When He says distress can't separate me, when He says even in distress I am more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus, He means it. So I'm going to take Him at His Word.