“We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” (Rom 8:17b, MSG)
Let’s be honest: Do we prefer bad times or good times?
Imagine if we had good times all the time. Would we continue to depend on Jesus? Or would we be tempted to wander away from Him? Truly it’s during the hard times that we experience Him in the most intimate ways. Let me give you an illustration:
Let’s travel to a faraway country in South America, to Colombia, where we will meet Didier. When Didier was 11 years old, he was forced to be a witness as his mother was shot by 38 bullets. Quite naturally, he was in shock. He needed to forget what he had seen, and he began drinking heavily and doing drugs.
He decided that the answer was vengeance. In order to accomplish this, he began collecting all kinds of guns. He even added a couple of grenades to the mix. Every night found him in desperate tears, crying for his mother, and it’s during those times that he would plan his retaliation. His courage was lacking, however, and he never acted on his plans.
Then one day, a friend who was a Christian, introduced Him to Jesus. It’s then that he realized that hatred was consuming his soul, that he had been walking on the dark side. Through the merits of Jesus, he was able to forgive the one who had murdered his mother.
One day, out on the streets, he actually met the man he thought to be his mother’s murderer. Sitting on the curb, he asked him why he had done this horrible crime. The “killer” started to sob heavily, confirming for Didier that he was, indeed, the murderer. Dedier assured him that he was forgiven, but he was astonished to learn the truth: the man was not the killer after all. Rather, it was the man’s brother.
Didier would then learn that the real murderer was in a lot of trouble, and he found himself with a cause. He wanted to find him to tell him that he had been forgiven. He wanted to help this criminal. Unfortunately, he had no idea where he was.
Bring unable to locate the man, Dedier began reaching out to help others who were facing trouble. He understood that if he was able to forgive, then others could do so as well. All these people filled with hatred could find real freedom.
During his hard times, Dedier found the One who made a difference in his life. He, too, would concur that, “We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” (Rom 8:17b, MSG)
He understood that: “The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Ps 9:9-10, NIV2)
Are we willing to forgive and find real freedom?
(To access the entire “Radical Grace From the Book of Romans” devotional series, please click here.)