Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
When we realize what an incredible thing God has done for us in Christ, we look at everything else from a different perspective. Right after this, Paul gets specific about that, in one of the most famous passages about rejoicing in suffering, but this whole thing isn’t about masochism at all. Rather, it’s about God having loved us enough to deal with our waywardness from His side, so that we may enter into eternal life and fellowship with Him, which is the purpose for which we were created. We have so little grasp of our own need for this, our total powerlessness in the face of our own sinfulness, and we likewise have so little grasp of the magnificence of what God intends for us. The more we come to understand these two things, the less we are distracted and distressed by all the stuff we go through. I think it was Karl Barth who, when asked as an old and greatly respected theologian what the greatest truth was that he had grasped in all his studies, said, “Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so.” The greatest truths are essentially very simple, which is why Jesus tells us we must become as little children to receive their benefit. (Matthew 18:3)
I thankfully received the basic truth of salvation when I was a small child, but it didn’t take me many years to become a sophomore. (“Sophomore” means “wise fool,” and it refers to those who, having learned a little, think they know everything, instead of grasping how small a portion of the total they really do know.) I became thoroughly mired in conceit, thinking I knew all the answers. What would have been far better would have been if I had dug into the depth, the magnificence, of the simple truths I did know. Right now I am charged with teaching others the truths that have been entrusted to me, and I find myself wanting to focus on the basics, again and again. The congregation may be tired of it, but I want to keep growing in my own knowledge and understanding. Whole books have been written on just the two verses we have here, and I’m sure they don’t cover it all! There is no limit to the wealth of God’s grace toward us, and it is my honor and privilege to delve into it and share it with others.
Father, we’ve come to the end of another year. Thank You for how You have led, grown, and shaped me in this year. Thank You especially for how You have grown me in the hope of Your glory. May I be increasingly faithful and effective in communicating that with others, so that all of Your plans may be fulfilled, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!