Even though the Chronicler quickly summarized the fall of Judah, we know from our readings in 2 Kings and Jeremiah the horror of the Babylonian invasion. The people endured great suffering during the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile.
For the next 4 days, we will devote our Old Testament readings to the Psalms of lament. Some alluded to the destruction of Jerusalem and some did not – but all of them looked to God for rescue in the midst of great suffering.
But you have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations (Psalm 44:9-11).
Many times during suffering we feel as if God has rejected us – as if he has abandoned us. But Romans 8 paints a different picture. Paul reminds us that our present-day suffering is nothing compared to the glory that will one day be ours in Christ. And that our sufferings help us to identify more intimately with Jesus.
It is in this context that Paul gives a most comforting promise…
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
The “good” that Paul is speaking of is not prosperity in the world’s eyes, but rather, “to be conformed into the image of his Son” (8:29).
So when we are in the midst of suffering, we must not think that God has abandoned us. But we can choose to find hope in the fact that there is purpose for our pain – to mold us more into the likeness of Jesus! And the glory of heaven that awaits us will make our sufferings seem trite in the end!
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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 (Romans 8:37-39).