What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: “For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God.Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth.For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)
If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:11)
In your presence is fullness of joy. Psalm 16:11
The three previous articles challenged us live out our call as Catholic men to be disciples of Jesus Christ, to live transformed lives, and to live what we believe. How can we meet these immense challenges, unless we also know that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). And what steps can we take to make these uplifting words of St. Paul a greater reality in our own lives? Paul certainly had to deal with more than his fair share of hardships. But no matter what he faced—be it a shipwreck, imprisonment, a mob attack, or a public scourging (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) —he always managed to hold on to his sense of contentment and, at times, even joy. How on earth did he do it?
Not by earthly means, that’s how! Paul was able to remain peaceful because he kept his heart and mind fixed on heavenly things, on the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:1-2), and on his own inner witness of joy and peace. He knew what God had called him to do, and he trusted that his heavenly Father would take care of him no matter what. It’s this kind of trust in God’s goodness and provision that can sustain us as well. He is on our side! His plan and his power are so much bigger than the challenges we may be facing right now: a family situation, a financial hardship, a wounded relationship, a sudden illness, or anything else.
But how do we get to this point of trust in the Lord? How can we be so sure that God is for us? The answer is simple, although often hard to implement. And it’s something we can never emphasize enough— through spending time with the Lord in prayer. Every day, we need to refresh ourselves by coming into God’s presence, immersing ourselves in his word, and being strengthened by the Holy Spirit. All it takes is twenty minutes a day and we will find ourselves more trusting, more peaceful, and less anxious when tough times come our way.
There is no substitute for daily prayer and Scripture reading. Even when life is going well, we need to touch the presence of God so that we don’t wander away from him. Our Father wants to give us so many good gifts (Matthew 7:11), not just help us in tough times. He wants to convince us every day that he is for us and that nothing can separate us from his love, and that if we are rooted in him: “in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us ” (Romans 8:37).
“Heavenly Father, I believe that you are for me, not against me. Lord Jesus, I place my hope in your great love for me, and in your words and your ways. I ask for the grace to stay close to you in good times and in bad times. In your presence is fullness of joy. And so I ask also for the grace to spend time in your presence every day in prayer.
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org ) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
2. The article begins by referring to Romans 8:31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” It then challenges us with this question: “And what steps can we take to make these uplifting words of St. Paul a greater reality in our own lives?” How would you respond to this question?
3. Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, in which Paul gives a litany of all his sufferings in preaching the Gospel. How do you think Paul was able to withstand these sufferings while still holding “on to his sense of contentment and, at times, even joy”?
4. The article then goes on to pose these two questions to us: “But how do we get to this point of trust in the Lord? How can we be so sure that God is for us?” The article gives this answer: “through spending time with the Lord in prayer. Every day, we need to refresh ourselves by coming into God’s presence, immersing ourselves in his word, and being strengthened by the Holy Spirit.” Do you agree with this? Why or why not?
5. If you don’t already do it, what do you think the fruits in your life would be if you faithfully spent 10-20 minutes every day in prayer and Scripture reading? If you do pray every day, what do you think the fruits in your life would be if you increased your daily times of prayer by 10-20 minutes? Are you willing to try it to see what the Lord will produce in your life as a result?
6. Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the grace you need to live a life of confident faith and trust in God, knowing that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.