23–29 June 2019.
Romans 8:35, 38–39 (click to read).
Life isn’t always easy.
But take a moment to quietly think back over today, over everything that has happened. Take a moment to think back over yesterday, over this past year, and even over your whole life up to this point: Has anything been causing you pain? Has anything been hurting you? Has anything been frustrating you and holding you back?
Then know the good news tonight: that no matter where those difficulties have come from, God is at work – right now – to change those problems and to heal those pains. God is at work in our lives, in our societies and cities, and in all creation to lead us, guide us, and pull us past those evils and to draw us towards goodness, and to him.
Know that whatever it is that has been causing you to suffer, whatever it is that has been negatively influencing you and making your life less than it should be, God is at work now changing that.
It doesn’t matter whether that pain comes from our own past mistakes and failings, from the many ways each day that we have failed and disappointed ourselves, or hurt others. Day by day, God is healing our lives and leading us to change, and to grow beyond those past mistakes.
If the pain we face in life comes from hurts we have received from others – from the way others have badly treated us – then know too that God is at work now to heal those relationships, to change our society, and to lead us all towards a greater life together. God is transforming our society into a better place – a place where all harmful injustice, hurtful hostility, and uncaring indifference are changed, healed, and replaced by fairness, peace, and a caring thoughtfulness for one another.
And if our worries come from the state of our world, from the decay, destruction, and suffering that we see in so many places, then know again that God is at work changing our world, and with it all reality. God is pulling this world forward, transforming it until it is fully healed: until the lion truly does lie down peacefully with the lamb, until all meaningless evil, all chaos, darkness, and death are done away with forever. In that transformed world, pain, worry, and evil won’t even be remembered anymore.
These are God’s promises to us, God’s promise for tomorrow. These are God’s promises: for a healed future with each other, with this world, and above all – with him.
This transformation doesn’t happen all at once. All growth and change take time. Change is small, quiet, and easily overlooked, like the growth of a mustard seed or the way that yeast gradually spreads through dough. But it is happening. Step-by-step God truly is pulling us and all things forward into the healed fullness of life – drawing all things to him. Day by day God is leading us to that goal. And his wonderful promise – as we read in Romans 8 – is that nothing will ever stop that process from happening. Nothing can ever stop God’s plan from succeeding – because nothing has the power to defeat or override the unstoppable love of God: not our own fears or worries, and stupid mistakes; nothing that tomorrow may throw at us; no hurtful forces on earth or secretive spiritual powers; not even death or the powers of hell itself can stop God’s pull – his irresistible love that pulls us forward to him. Just go ahead and think of something, anything at all that is negative or hurtful, and then know that that thing is powerless before God’s love. As Paul says: nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God. So whatever those past hurts may have been, whatever our current anxieties about ourselves, our relationships, or our world may be, we can let go of that anxiety now and know that God’s saving hand, God’s powerful love is drawing us forward and will win out over it all.
Today we can let go and trust Christ’s promise that he truly is transforming all things – he is making all things new (Revelation 21:5). And again, nothing can ever stop this transformation. Nothing can stand in Christ’s way.
This world will be changed – until every instance of suffering and evil is gone.
This society will be changed – until every instance of hatred and injustice and unfairness is gone, and we all live together in peace as God’s children.
And each one of us will be changed – until every hurt in our lives is healed, every tear is wiped away, and we are each transformed, re-formed, and made new.
Christ’s work of salvation, his work of transformation, his work of love will never be stopped – it cannot be stopped. This great transformation is already underway – and it will keep happening, unstoppably, until every last thing that detracts from the great fullness of life is finally, eternally, healed.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis