“INSEPARABLE FROM GOD’S LOVE”       Romans 8:35-39

A Memorial Message for Rachel CAO             November 21, 2009.

 

INTRODUCTOIN:

As we all are aware that this memorial service is not just another routine loss of a loved one. It is one of the most difficult events a pastor has to do. As I ponder on the mixture between sadness and pain as a human being and hope and faith as a pastor, God has given me and us, a message we all can go away with strength.

 

THE PAIN AND SUFFERING IN THIS WORLD:

For those of us Christians, we all would agree that the Apostle Paul is the most dedicated, kind, loving, powerful, successful and intelligent Bible scholar, missionary, preacher, pastor and faithful servant of God. Few people may match Paul to be the beloved friend and mentor who deserved the best treatment the world may treat him. Many of us hold on to the belief that good people deserve good life. But that is not true to the life of Paul.

 

After many years of faithful service to God, established many churches, led countless souls to salvation, when Paul looked back to his life experience, he said something like this in this passage: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Then he quoted the words of King David, the most beloved king of the Israelis from Psalm 44:22, “As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 

WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPENED TO GOOD PEOPLE, written by award winning Christian writer Philip Yancey, tells us that we Christians do not have a safety or security policy to exempt us from all others in this world of evil, pain and suffering. The great advantage we have, as children of God, in time of tragedy, pain and suffering is that God will go with us, in front of us in many cases, and sometimes He will carry us on His shoulders, as it was written in the world famous “Footprints on the Beach.” Sometimes we understand how and why things happen. Other times, we may never know how and why and just have to go through them with God holding our hands. God promises to hold our hands to go through this and come out victorious.

 

ABOUT THE POWER AND LOVE OF GOD:

When great tragedies happen to good Christians, some may ask why can’t God’s power protect him/her from all these? If God is loving and good, why can’t he prevent this from happening? I guess those early Christians might have asked the same questions when they witnessed the suffering of Paul and the injustice of the false accusation of the Jewish leaders and the Roman empire officials. I would also ask God: why can’t you keep Paul from suffering and death in the Roman prison so he can preach the gospel many more years, more souls would be saved and the churches would be stronger. But all these are human wisdom, not God’s wisdom. God allowed Paul to suffer, died in a lonely prison without justice, but he became the model of dedication, obedience, sacrifice and faithfulness that motivated millions of fellow Christians to follow his footsteps in carrying the gospel to all corners of the world. By the sacrifices of Paul, many more dedicated Christian lives, missions and service throughout the 2,000 years of history. I am convinced that the example and life of Rachel will also inspired multitude of Christians to follow her footsteps, pick up the baton she left behind and continue to live, to love, to serve the Lord, His church and people.

 

INSEPARABLE FROM THE LOVE OF GOD: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God.” (8:38-39) To some, advert life event may weaken or even destroy the very foundation of their faith in God. But not in the case of Paul because he strongly believed in the love of God. The love of God had saved him from his sins and loss. That love of God had carried him through all kinds of suffering and it is that love of God that will continue to sustain his faith and keep him going for the Lord. It was the love of God that moved Jesus to weep on the death of Lazarus. God understands our grief and His love will remain strong to carry us through. In fact, it is the love of God that gives us faith and hope in time like this that makes us different from those who do not know God.

 

IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD: “The love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (8:39) The strength, the sustaining power and the faith that kept Paul going was the love of God in Jesus Christ. We know the love of God through the life and person of Jesus Christ. His love to us, his followers, was shown the best when he comforted his disciples before his terrible death on the cross. In John 14:1-4, “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God and trust in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” The finale to show how much God loves us is in heaven. Jesus promised us that he would come back to take all of us to be with him and all those who went to be with him. I am looking forward to that day, when we arrive at the Gate of Pearl in heaven, Rachel, along with all other saints in Christian history, will be waiting to see us and welcome us to the eternal home Jesus promised to prepare for us.

 

Yes, we are temporarily separated from Rachel in human body form. But we are closely connected with her in spiritual form. And someday, we will be reunited with her in heavenly body and spirit God has promised to give to us. Again, Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, also believe in me.”