We focus on the Epistle today with an excerpt from Reading Romans with Luther.
Genesis 17:1–7, 15–16
Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.
During Lent, we remember Jesus’ journey to the cross and recognize the many hardships He endured. The perfect and spotless Lamb of God took upon Himself the punishment for our sins. As our Suffering Savior, He continues to be with us, even in times of great trial and hardship. We are not alone, but we can rejoice in His promise to be with us in all things.
Rejoice in suffering?
Are we really supposed to rejoice when somebody we love dies or when the doctor walks in with bad news? Who has ever rejoiced after a long-term relationship ends in a breakup? When was the last time our first response to being laid off was to rejoice?
God always meets us when rock meets bottom. He promises to meet us in the place of despair. It doesn’t matter whether we have been weakened by cancer, a hopeless search for love, or the betrayal of a friend, Jesus meets us in our suffering as the God who suffers with us.
Suffering isn’t something to be sought after, yet in a profound way, suffering is something worth rejoicing over. When we’re convinced that we don’t have anything left, we have no choice but to depend on Jesus. When we give up our fight, we have no choice but to rely on Jesus to fight for us. When we realize we can’t face something on our own, we have no choice but to finally trust that God can handle it.
Prayer in the midst of suffering is the desperate cry of the person who’s given up. Prayer is the last grasp for somebody who knows she can’t do it on her own. Prayer is offered when the one who suffers finds a confidence outside of himself and his situation and solely in the God who is with him.
When we are driven to our knees, the God who seems distant is actually present with us. When it seems like the world has turned against us, God is fighting for us. When it seems like the accuser wants to destroy us, Christ Himself stands in our place.
We may not see God in those moments, but He is there. And when the moment passes, we can look back and see it.
Devotional reading is adapted from Reading Romans with Luther, pages 97–104 © 2016 RJ Grunewald. Published by Concordia Publishing House.