The first deep question about God we all ask is, “Does God exist?” That’s not an easy question to answer, but most of us do end up answering, “Yes.” Most often we look at the grandeur of the natural world, and this points us to a Creator. To use Paul’s words in Romans 1, we see the “eternal power and divine nature” of God in creation, that there is a God and this God is powerful.
This is a harder question to answer because our experiences of life don’t clearly point one way or the other: sometimes God seems good, sometimes not; sometimes God seems to be on our side, and other times God seems to be fighting against us.
Along the way, through our lives, we meet a lot of good people: friends and family and others who care about us, who encourage us, who are interested in us, who help us, who live life with us.
But we also meet some not-so-nice people along the way: people who try to cheat us, people who say unkind things about us, people who have the power to help us but don’t.
Or think about the circumstances of our lives. Sometimes things have just worked out: we met that person at just the right time who gave us that job, or we just missed being in that car accident on the highway, or our children all grew up to be healthy and happy.
But sometimes things have not gone well at all: we experienced the pain of burying a child, or we missed out on that job that could have changed our life, or we got that disease at an early age.
I’m sure many of you can relate to this. Sometimes God seems to be good, God seems to be on your side: your family visit you, you are able to read or walk on your own. Other times God seems to be set against you: perhaps you are lonely, or in pain, or filled with regrets about the past.
At its heart, the Christian gospel is the answer to this question, “Is God good? Is God on our side?” Jesus has come to show us exactly this: “God is for us, not against us. God is on our side.”
Jesus shows us that God is not simply some all-powerful Creator up there, somewhere. Jesus shows us that God is with us, here among us. God became a man, the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us: Jesus showed God to us.
And the God Jesus showed us is a God who loves us. Jesus touched the lepers and healed the sick: this is God. Jesus embraced the outcasts and ate with the sinners: this is God. Jesus taught us to love one another in these same ways: this is God. Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us, taking on our guilt and shame, walking in our suffering and pain and death: this is God. Jesus rose from the dead to conquer death: this is God.
“What shall we say in response to these things?” the Apostle Paul asks. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” When we look to Jesus, the answer is obvious: God is for us, God is on our side, so no one and nothing can really stand against us.
Not even “hardship or distress?” Not even “death or life” or “the present or the future”?
No, not even these things can truly stand against us—because God is for us, God is on our side, and we know this because of Jesus.
Yes, we still face hardship and distress; we still get lonely, we still feel pain, we still suffer. Yes, we still face hard things from our past, we still face difficult things in the present, and we still face death in our future. But God is for us, God is on our side, God loves us with a deep, deep love, and we know this because of Jesus.
So do not be afraid. Be strong and courageous. God is with you in your loneliness, because Jesus was lonely. God knows what pain and suffering is really like, because Jesus suffered and went through pain. In Jesus God has walked through death, and come out the other side.
God is with us, God is for us, God is on our side, God is good, God loves us.