Ever felt like this little rhyme?
God’s plan had a hopeful beginning
Man spoiled his chances by sinning
We trust that the story will end in God’s glory
But at present the other side’s winning
This rhyme seems to be very true at times, doesn’t it? Where is the other side winning in your lives? Some secret lust or addiction you cannot control? Marital problems? A sickness or pain from which you cannot get relief? Problems with children, parents, job, neighbors? Where in this past week does it seem that the other side has won the victory?
We hate to look at the news: there is nothing there but devastating storms, collapsing buildings, shootings, assassinations, riots, political turmoil. Let’s get specific: last week I visited my doctor. There was no good news: all kinds of skin problems, COPD, what else? To whom do I turn? My doctor gives me medications, they give temporary relief. Where do I turn for permanent relief?
Then I turn to Romans 8: verses 26 and 27: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
There is comfort here for us when all appears to be lost, when we don’t know which way to turn. When we are groaning in pain or troubles, the Holy Spirit is there groaning with us and bringing our troubles to God the Father, making clear what our problems are, even when we don’t know what to do or say. Why God does not immediately take away our troubles is a question for which we do not have the answer. For his purposes God leaves us with our present problems, but he promises us relief at the appropriate time. But at his time, not ours.
Through all our troubles and problems we have the promise that our greatest problem has already been taken care of. Our present problems are of a temporary nature. Think back a year or so. What was your greatest concern then? Chances are you cannot remember. Your present problems are what are important. What will be your concern a year from now, ten years from now? Eventually your greatest problem will be the concern of death, what happens then?
God assures us that in Jesus Christ our greatest concern is already solved. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pave the way for our eternal life living with God in his eternal kingdom. Because we have lived lives contrary to the will of God, he states that we cannot enter into his heaven because we have not been perfect.
I’m sure everyone has to admit that he or she has sinned at times. But Jesus Christ, true God become true man, lived a life that was absolutely perfect. And then he died on the cross, paying the penalty for our sins, dying that we might be forgiven, that God now forgives our sins, and accepts us into his family to live with him forever. We don’t earn this, we don’t deserve it. All we can do is thank God for his love and accept the wonderful gift that he has given us.
This does not remove the present troubles we have in this world but it does give us assurance that these problems will come to an end, when we leave this world to enter into God’s world for all eternity.
The point here is that the appearance that the other side is winning is a temporary mirage. God is in charge and even though some earthly battles appear to be lost, the victory has already been won; we just don’t yet see it completed.
God promises us this victory and he will strengthen us through our present problems with the Holy Spirit who carries all our troubles to the Father who will see us safely through this earthly turmoil.
Perhaps the rhyme could be rewritten:
God’s plan had a hopeful beginning
His great love did not stop with our sinning
Though evil seems strong and our battle is long
In Christ and his cross we are winning!