What Will Separate Us?

Romans, Chapter 8, is one of the “go to” chapters in scripture. It is rich with consoling words that seem to bring healing in times of grief, sickness, worry, or loss.

In our second reading this weekend, we hear the question, “what will separate us from the love of Christ?” It is followed by a litany of woes that we might consider. I find it difficult in these days of pandemic and the imposition of mandatory masks, not to feel a little sad for the loss of friendly smiling faces. I don’t like wearing my mask, and I suspect most people feel the same way. It just doesn’t seem natural to me. And yet, I know that the mask serves as protection for me and for others.

I also feel a sense of sadness due to the social isolation that we all now experience. In these beautiful days of summer, it is such a blessing to be able to gather outdoors with our big family to enjoy a meal together. I worry that when cold weather comes, we may need to resume virtual gatherings in order to stay connected. While I don’t miss going into the office, I really miss not seeing my coworkers and friends. And, of course, the State Fair, and cheese curds, and ice cream, and pork chops on a stick . . . how sad indeed!

The news in these last few months has brought a lot of pain and sadness. I am torn between wanting and needing to know what is happening in the world and the depth of pain I often feel for victims of violence and crime in our city. I feel a sense of gratitude, when I can lift all of these painful things to the Lord in prayer. I don’t know how I would live in our present time, if I didn’t have my faith.

St. Paul was no stranger to pain and sadness. In his letters, he describes the trials he endured for the Kingdom. We can imagine that he was somewhat of a nomad, traveling from place to place, and relying on the kindness of those around him for his daily needs. There was no Holiday Inn or Hilton in Paul’s day, and even if those options existed, a poor preacher would not have had the funds for such accommodations. Knowing the suffering St. Paul experienced in this life, these words from his letter to the Romans should give all of us a little more courage and a little more hope.

In my prayer these last few months, the Lord has given me three words to hold:  patience, trust, and hope.

Patience. We are all in a place of waiting. We are waiting for the end of this pandemic. We are waiting for a restoration to “the way things used to be.” We are waiting for an end to the violence and to a more peaceful and loving world. We are waiting for answers and waiting for the next turn of the world events. Patience is the virtue that allows us to walk through the dark valley, knowing that there will be a lush hillside soon to come. 

Trust. I find it difficult to trust when the boat begins to rock. I feel like the disciples in the boat with Jesus, Who was asleep while they still feared the storm. Jesus reminds us that we can always trust in Him and in His plan for our lives. It is easy to trust God when things are going smoothly. It is the stormy times when we must really hold onto our faith and not let go. Scripture passages like the one in our second reading this weekend help us to remember that God is always with us in good times and in challenging ones.

Hope. St. Paul reminds us that nothing will ever separate us from the love of Christ. The storms of life will continue to come, but we have an umbrella against the storms based on our faith in Jesus Christ. I read a very sad story this week about a woman with COVID-19 who gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and then died days later. She was on a ventilator and her life was slipping away. I can’t imagine her husband’s grief. Yet there is hope in this new life that is God’s gift to her grieving husband.

I try each day to hold these three words close to my heart, as I walk through another day of uncertainty. There are moments of hope each day, as I savor the beautiful sunfilled summer days and enjoy the beauty of nature. I gain trust, as I look for God’s hand in the small moments of the day. I am learning to be patient, knowing that all things are in God’s hands and in His time. Each day is a gift. We are reminded that we shouldn’t dwell on the past and shouldn’t look too far ahead into the future. Let’s hold today as a gift. Yesterday is in the past, and tomorrow does not yet belong to us. Let’s live in the “today,” holding patience, trust, and hope in our hearts.

God loves you so much!
Deacon Tim

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