I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with when someone becomes a Christian, is the realisation that we are not promised an easy road. There is something in giving your life to Christ, and the other self denial, and taking up of one’s cross that comes with it, that dupes us into thinking that we should therefore get a fair go of life.
It isn’t the case though. And what’s more we are told the opposite, that in fact things are going to be tough!
But what else are we told?
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are reminded in Paul’s letter to the Romans that we will suffer. That there will be hardship, distress, persecution and all sorts of dangers that could lead to our death. We are humans, and when we become Christians, that doesn’t change. We are flesh and blood, designed to wear out. One days our bodies will get poorly, get old, get tired and die. And so, just as death is part of the human condition, so is grief. Because as humans we are not only made to die, we are made for relationship.
Grieving is written into our DNA.
But what are we promised in spite of these hardships? That nothing separates us from the love of God. That God’s love is stronger than death.
It’s not just an idea that Paul has, Paul says he is convinced of it. I love that word convinced, because it gives me the feeling that he’s tried other ways of thinking, he’s held on to other ideas, but this is the only one that has stuck. He’s left holding on to this because his life literally depends on it.
I am convinced that we will all die. I am convinced that grief is one of the most painful things we will all have to experienced. I am convinced that God’s love is stronger than the grave and I cannot be separated from it.