Religion

Christians have troubles, yes, but more importantly, Jesus’ redeeming love

“The Pirates of Penzance” features Frederic, a youth apprenticed to pirates until he is 21 -- he thinks.

Coming of age, Frederic learns he can’t leave the pirate band for his new love, Mabel.

The shocker: His contract specifies that he is tied to the pirates until his 21st birthday.

Technically, since Frederic was born on Feb. 29, he won’t reach that birthday for 60 years.

This February has no 29th. Still: Why may so much seem to separate us from the God who is love? Technicality? No. Abnormality? No.

In Romans 8:35, Paul poses seven problems he had experienced.

Trouble? Check. Hardship? Check. Persecution? Check.

Famine and nakedness? Paul wasn’t exaggerating.

He told the Corinthians, “We go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless” (1 Corinthians 4:10–11).

Paul had faced “death again and again” (11:23).

Specifically: “Five times I received from the Jews the 40 lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move.

“I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked” (11:24–27).

Rehearse these details. Why? Satan loves to lie about troubles.

He suggests that if God sincerely loved us, we’d laugh much more and cry a lot less. Really hurting? “God has left you,” Satan says.

Liar! God left Jesus on Golgotha; Jesus lives.

To serve the Crucified One in this fallen world, especially to spread his gospel, means Christians’ lives won’t be a comic opera, with one silly song and mad-cap adventure after another, until wild applause finally erupts.

We may hurt severely. We may die alone, in anguish, or in tragic circumstances.

Take it from Paul, whose head, presumably, a Roman sword separated from his shoulders:

If our risen Savior pleads our case, and will reappear soon, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

Nothing!

Rev. Daniel A. Witte, pastor of Risen Savior Lutheran Church, can be reached at 747-5564. For more information, see www.rsavior.com. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday’s Herald, written by local clergy members.

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