Romans 5:1–5 (CSB) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we boast in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 8:28–29 (CSB) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Genesis 50:15–21 (CSB) When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said to one another, “If Joseph is holding a grudge against us, he will certainly repay us for all the suffering we caused him.”
So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before he died your father gave a command: ‘Say this to Joseph: Please forgive your brothers’ transgression and their sin—the suffering they caused you.’ Therefore, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when their message came to him. His brothers also came to him, bowed down before him, and said, “We are your slaves!”
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people. Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
God is our peace and grace that is obtained only through faith in Christ Jesus.
I will never forget the first time I remember hearing Romans 5:1-5. I was unsaved (and not knowing so), going through my first divorce, and was in all out despair. I could not reconcile with my wife and I had lost everything. When my first wife left me and I came back to a cleaned-out apartment, I sat on my inflatable mattress with a pen and notepad and wrote out four things I wanted to focus on and make better:
- My Son
- My Family
I figured the best course of action was to get back to a church. God’s sovereign grace led me to attending Gateway Church in DFW and into the office of a pastor. I told him everything that was going on and he gave me this passage.
Hindsight between always 20/20, that passage was completely prophetic. Little did I know, this is what God ended up doing:
- Saving me
- Breaking my addiction to porn
- Pours his Spirit into me
- I get baptized
- Leading me to be a member at Gateway
- Lead a Bible study group that blew up and then multiplied out
- Interning at Gateway
- Then being blessed and sent out to join at church plant in Fort Worth church plant
“Wow”, you must be thinking, “God was at work.” And he was in a mighty way.
But here is the one of the things I don’t mention much in my testimony that I have to confessed. When I was serving in my church plant, I was single. And oh how I sucked at being single. I was the worst. And just like a dog returning to its vomit or the Israelites trying to go back to Egypt, I kept tried to flirt with porn again. (Praise be to God that I was too cheap and broke to get decent Internet.) And I just convinced myself that if I didn’t get married soon, that my sin was going to consume me. No one else was saying that. Not the church, not the Bible, not God, not nobody.
Instead of turning to God wholeheartedly, I instead try to fix my own problem.
And what God, in his tender affections and disciplines, brought up some deeply painful things in my life:
- PTSD from childhood trauma
- the relational consequences of a former lifelong addiction to porn
- suicide attempt
I do not know how God rescued me but he did. I don’t know how I survived but he sustained me. I still remembered in my deepest darkest pain, I couldn’t pray nor hear from God. And for the life of me, I couldn’t remember anything from the Bible, save for one passage:
Romans 8:14–17 (CSB) For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
And suffer I did. All for his glory and fame of His name.
And the thing about this is: Christ was never above my suffering. He was right there with me. He was never apart from my addiction. He was tempted in every way that I was. He was never expressed grief, sadness or depression. He sat with me in my darkness and despair.
And we made it through to the other side together.
And that wasn’t the end of my running away. I always prone to wonder. But God is prone to come find me and bring me home.
We are never defined by our circumstances. But when life is kicking you in the privates over and over again; when you sit under the crushing force of an abusive spouse; when it has felt like Psalm 22:1-2 every day for years on end…
God is good. God is there. God is our healer. God is our defender. God is our preserver. Nothing will snatch me from his hands. Nothing can separate from the love of God that is in only in Christ Jesus my Lord. There is no condemnation for me. There is only the path of life, fullness of joy, pleasures evermore, and perfect satisfaction when that one day I get to look into the loving eyes of my beautiful Savior.
Cling to God. Just hold on to the Father. Fight for to hang on. Whatever you gotta do, do it.
Just know, no matter what you do, God has you.