Summary: As long as we are joined to God through our faith in Jesus Christ, we need not fear separation from God in this life or in the life to come. Why? Because of His steadfast love which endures forever.
Ever Feel Like God Has Unfriended You?
1. Have you ever decided to break off a friendship?
Dear Abby, “I became engaged to a man and just found out he had a wooden leg. Do you think I should break it off?”
2. One young woman explains why she did so: “I knew it was time to end my friendship with my best friend when the only time we would see each other was when she needed a ride somewhere. The last straw was when she demanded that I drive her to the Walmart located right across the street from her apartment. When I told her I wasn’t going to unless she actually asked me, she said I was being sensitive and overly dramatic. I escorted her out of my apartment and that was the last time time I ever saw her." [https://www.buzzfeed.com/]
3. Have you ever been on the other end where someone decided to stop being your friend?
4. My parents were friends with another couple a few doors down. The wife has said she would never go to work, she would have another baby first….
5. Because human relationships can be so volatile, it is easy to fear God will do the same.
Main Idea: As long as we are joined to God through our faith in Jesus Christ, we need not fear separation from God in this life or in the life to come. Why? Because of His steadfast love which endures forever.
B. The just of the psalm: God’s people suffer INEXPLICABLY and can only rely upon God’s LOVE (Hesed) to show itself.
1. The idea of hesed is God’s love based upon Him being faithful to His Word.
2. Derek Kidner (comments on Psalm 44)
“This psalm is perhaps the clearest example of a search for some other cause of national disaster than guilt and punishment.”
“Suffering may be more a battle-scar than a punishment.”
“The New Testament… will see the persecuted church foreshadowed here, and diagnose not defeat, but victory.”
“The divine sleep, aloofness and inattention…are the appearances; the reality behind them is given the last word of the psalm: thy steadfast love.”
II. Paul’s Assertion is this: Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s STEADFAST Love (35-36).
A. Paul asks a rhetorical question and POSTULATES suggested but inadequate answers (35).
1. Tribulation (troubles)
2. Distress (hardship)
5. Lack of adequate clothing
7. Sword (probably government execution or death threats)
• Suffering like all mankind and persecution (suffering for Christ).
• If we handle the sufferings typical of mankind in a way that pleases God, we will be rewarded.
B. Paul writes not from an easy chair, but as someone who SUFFERED much for Christ.
2 Corinthians 1123-29, “ Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?”
C. Paul quotes Psalm 44 to demonstrate that persecution and suffering are not a sign of God’s displeasure at us, but a sign of our LOYALTY to Christ (36).
D. These verses are precious to us all, but especially meaningful to believers suffering persecution right NOW as we speak.
III. Why This Assertion is True: Nothing Created Is Greater than the CREATOR (37-39).
A. We don’t just scrape by – we are HYPER conquerors (hypernikomen).
February 15, 2017, 21 Egyptian Christians were martyred on a beach in Libya in North Africa, by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists…“These Coptic Christian hostages were executed for no other reason than their faith in Jesus Christ. As horrible as the episode was, it also offers inspiration and testimony to the power of faith. The 21 men executed that day were itinerant tradesmen working on a construction job. The executioners demanded that each hostage identify his religious allegiance. Given the opportunity to deny their faith, the Egyptians declared their faith in Jesus as their Lord. Steadfast in their belief, even in the face of evil and certain death, each one was beheaded.” However, one man out of the 21 was not from Egypt, but from another unknown African country. According to some sources, he was not originally a Christian, but he saw the immense faith of the others, and when the terrorists asked him if he rejected Jesus, he reportedly said, "Their God is my God", knowing that he would be killed. Bishop Demetrios writes, “In that moment before his death, he became a Christian!” [Doug Fannon, sermoncentral]