What is it about ‘Roadworks’? They always seem to come at a time when you least expect them, intentionally positioned to thwart you getting to your destination in good time. In the Easter holidays I found myself stuck in slow, long, laborious lines of traffic, and did I not manage to pick up a puncture from a sharp stone, on my bike, going through single file traffic lights too!
But do we really have the right to moan? Should we not delight and give a cheer when we see our roads being improved? Do we have a divine right to get from A to B without difficulty, diversion or detour?
We can have the same reaction to life’s trials and tribulations. At first tough times can cause us to panic, complain and deny reality, but they can be necessary tools to slow us down and let God change us, and our situation, for the better. I don’t mean to belittle, underestimate or diminish the difficulty you may face right now, rather encourage you to trust in a God who wants the best for you and can work all things together for your good, able to recycle the unjust, cruel crucifixion of Christ into the greatest ‘plus sign’ of all time. St Paul likens harrowing roadworks in our lives to the painful process of pregnancy: Romans 8:26-39 (MSG)
“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? … The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture … None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
Luci Shaw says, “Disappointment often focuses on the failure of our own agenda rather than God’s long-term purposes for us, which may use stress and struggle as tools for strengthening our spiritual muscles.”
By the way, I must also learn to factor in more time to get to from A to B!