MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, April 8th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. You know, last week, I got to spend some time with our friends at The Gospel Coalition gathering in Indianapolis, which was an enormous encouragement.
But I bring this up because I was in one of the meeting rooms and who walked in but Trillia Newbell, whom I’d never had the chance to meet personally.
She is as much of a delight in person as are the commentaries she prepares for us.
REICHARD: Not a surprise! I think she’s great, and she has a new commentary for us today, some thoughts on Romans 8.
Now, if this theme sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that. It’s the topic of her latest book, titled If God is For Us.
TRILLIA NEWBELL, COMMENTATOR: At times do you feel like the world and everything in it is against you? Not this podcast, of course, but life and people.
There are times when I’ve felt like nothing was going quite right. Relationships seemed hard and strained. Sickness wrecked my body and plans. And my mind had to fight hard to remember God’s goodness.
In that fight to remember God’s goodness, I’d rehearse Paul’s rhetorical question in Romans 8: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (8:31).
A rhetorical question is a question asked in order to create a dramatic effect. It makes a point, rather than seeking an answer.
In this verse and the verses that follow, it’s almost as if Paul is saying, “Come on, look at all the Lord has done. Taste and see. Believe. If he did this, then why in the world wouldn’t you believe him, trust him, and rest in him?
God is “for us” means God is on our side. He is working on our behalf. God is working all things together for good.
If this is true, then who can be against us?
The answer is everyone and everything. And there is a significant sting when it’s a person we are acquainted with. People can be against you. They can slander you, abandon you, and do you physical harm.
Maybe you’ve experienced this. You are not alone.
Paul, the writer of Romans, had everyone and everything against him. He received lashes with a whip. He was beaten with rods. He was stoned. Paul was shipwrecked and experienced great dangers and sufferings. His own people abandoned him (see 2 Corinthians 11: 24-29).
Paul received all of this because he wasn’t ashamed of the gospel. He was willing to suffer with Jesus. He endured great hardship because he knew that his suffering was momentary. It had an expiration date. Our suffering does, too.
So when God says he is for us, he is not saying that we will never experience hardship. He is saying that ultimately no one can thwart God’s good plans for us. As Joseph said to his brothers: What you meant for evil, God meant for good.
Early church father Chrysostom put it this way:
“Yet those that be against us, so far as they from thwarting us at all, that even without their will they become to us the causes of crowns, and procurers of countless blessings, in that God’s wisdom turneth their plots unto our salvation and glory. See how really no one is against us!”
God uses even the evil plans of others for our good. He cannot act outside of his love and goodness.
Next time you experience hardship brought on by others, ask God to help you forgive and extend love. But also remember that God is using that experience for your good. No one can truly come against you.
With a confidence and assurance Christians can say: if God—the holy, just, loving, kind, good, Father—is for us; who can be against us? No one.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Trillia Newbell.