For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
I have this verse taped on the bulletin board above my desk with various other notes, artwork from my kids and pictures that are important to me. Over the last few weeks it seems as if I’ve needed that reminder over and over again – the reminder that there is nothing, nothing at all that can separate us from the love of God.
While this promise is reassuring, sometimes I wish there was more to it. As some of you know, one of my other favorite (and least favorite in some ways) stories in the bible is the story of the two builders. You might remember this story from the Sunday School song (if you don’t, you can check it out in your bibles – Matthew 7:24-28) that someone always seems to sing when the story comes up. This is the story of the wise man who built his house upon the rock, and foolish man who built his house upon the sand. It is another one of the great parables that Jesus uses to teach us, and I think the message is one we need to hear again and again. You see the beauty in this story is that the same storms came to the wise man and the foolish man. If you read this in your bible, you’ll see that the same words are used – the rains poured down, the rivers flooded and winds beat against that house – the only real difference is that the wise man’s house stays strong.
Here is where my love/hate relationship with this story begins. It becomes clear that God doesn’t promise us a life free of storms. I wish it said that the wise man, who built his house on the rock, lived happily ever after with perfect sunny days – but it doesn’t. The same storms that came to the foolish man, came to the wise man. God’s promise in this story, is that God will carry us through the storms that come our way, so that when the storms end, we will be standing. It really is the promise that goes back to Romans 8 – that nothing can separate us from God’s amazing love.
Will there be storms? Absolutely. Sometimes it seems like they are all around us. Over the last several weeks I’ve cried with a friend who has a scary diagnosis looming in her future. I’ve been following several people’s journeys with serious illness and death, sometimes sudden, and always seemingly unfair. I’ve been honored to be a part of these journeys. There are people and places struggling with natural disaster, poverty and hunger. Sometimes these storms can feel overwhelming. Then, in the midst of it all you begin to see the light beginning to shine through the clouds. The light comes in the form of kind words from a friend, in communities coming together to support those who are hurting, in a hug when you needed it most and through the Word of God that speaks to you time and time again. In those moments we begin to see the ways God has helped us through the storms. We begin to see the people that were placed in our lives to help us. We emerge from the storm, still standing.