The last question of our Romans study asks, “What is still challenging you?” My challenge, right now, is that there is a lie that quietly slithers its way into my thinking. As my heart personally grieves and grapples with the pain of disease, of broken relationships, of mental illness, of sisters in Christ wrestling with the goodness of God, of the painful separation death—when all of this brokenness leaves my own heart broken, I have heard the lie of the enemy whispered in my ear, “This isn’t fair.”
And having spent these last two semesters in Romans, God has brought me to the place of extinguishing that arrow. I have seen the good heart of our Heavenly Father, and I don’t want fair; I just want Jesus. Fair means that I have sinned and deserve judgment (Romans 2:12). Fair means that all this brokenness ends just broken. But the grace of Jesus, Jesus says that I am justified by His blood and saved by His life (Romans 5: 9-10). Jesus says that His life is mine, that he has personally carried this suffering (Romans 6:11). And Jesus, who loves so generously, continues to give. He equips us to shine the light of hope in the brokenness. He gives his Holy Spirit—His very life and peace dwelling in me (Romans 8:6). He gives the tenderness and intimacy of allowing me to call “Abba! Father!” of knowing that I have been adopted and am His child (Romans 8:15). My good Father knows this suffering; He sees it. He gives the promise that I am never alone, for nothing will ever separate me from his love (Romans 8: 39). His love is not outside the boundaries of this suffering. His love knows no borders1. It resides here, in the midst of all this mess and brokenness.
So, when the brokenness of this fallen world breaks my heart wide open, give me Jesus. In the person of Jesus words like hope and grace are firm anchors. These words, so often tossed around lightly, are the solid anchors we cling to. I saw recently that rock climbers ascending El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park, will climb for a full week to reach the top. Along their journey, they anchor their beds into the side of that mountain to sleep, rest, and eat, thousands of feet above the ground, and then continue on in their ascent. In Romans, Jesus, through Paul, gives us anchors we need for our journey—anchors that allow us to rest, breathe, know peace and comfort, and even to have hope that defies comprehension. Our hope in the life of Jesus anchors us to His promise of freedom from the brokenness of sin, the brokenness in creation, and the brokenness in our own bodies (Romans 8:21-23). He has already given us His very life, and He will restore creation and give us new bodies. He will reign over a kingdom in which every tear will be wiped away, in which death, sorrow, crying, and pain will be gone forever (Revelation 21:4). The Holy Spirit anchors us to the will of God as He teaches us how to pray and intercedes for us when all words fall short (Romans 8:26-27). The love of the Father anchors us in the promise that in all things He will accomplish the good work of making us like Jesus (Romans 8:29). Our Good Father promises, our hope will not be disappointed because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (Romans 5:5).
So, “What then shall we say to these things?”–To this lie of the enemy that says “this brokenness isn’t fair.” Clinging to the anchors of truth, we can say, we don’t want fair! We want the One who is righteous, the One who spoke life into existence and will restore creation to his glory. mWe just want Jesus. We want the One who saw us in our sinfulness and gave us His very life so that we could know these anchors for our souls. Truly, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32) I cling to the promise that when God says all things, He means ALL things. This suffering is real, and it hurts. But it is not the end of the story. Jesus is the beginning of the story, and He is the end of the story, and in every moment between, He is good; He is sovereign; and He is love. I can anchor there and rest, anchor there and breath, anchor there and find strength to climb again.
So, in the morning when I rise,
And when I am alone;
And in the depths of brokenness,
When I cannot fix the pain;
And when I come to die,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world.
Give me Jesus.2
- Hillsong. “Let There Be Light.” By Michael Guy Chislett, Matthew Crocker, Joel Houston, Brooke Ligertwood, Scott Ligertwood, and Jonas Myrin. Let There Be Light. Hillsong Music Australia, 2016.
- Crosby, Fanny J. “Give Me Jesus.” Sweeny, John Robson. 1879.