Separation Anxiety based on Romans 8:38-39
Pentecost 6/Proper 12, July 24, 2011
Pastor Richard Mau
Immanuel Lutheran – Des Plaines, IL
Psalm 125 Deuteronomy 7:6-9 Romans 8:28-39 Matthew 13:44-52
When a mother animal and her young who become separated is interesting to observe. One can see their responses and sense their feelings. One might cry out for the other. The young will realize it is “lost” and begin aimless wandering searching where the mother is. Sometimes the mother can see the young while the young cannot see the mother.
We too feel the anxieties of being separated from loved ones. Whether a planned separation or not, one looks forward to being reunited again. Saying “Good-bye” is connected to “see you soon.” The one departing and the one remaining feel the separation alike. There is a different type of quietness during that separation. There are the inner emotions and not wanting that time of separation. We seek ways to avoid separations. With our new technologies it is interesting to observe how often couples text and cel-phone, even during the casual separations of daily routines.
Paul writes of separation anxiety, from both our perspective and God’s.
Popular music and poetry often describe separation as loneliness. Simon and Garfunkel began their song, “Hello darkness my old friend. I’ve come to be with you again.” That is the greatest pain in separation, being alone, totally alone. It is a dark condition. Helplessness and despair in anxiety is believing that this being alone, being cut off from those people and things one loves and desires, is a permanent condition and will never be restored. We know all too well that is what death is all about, being separated knowing there will never be a together again.
God’s people are no exception to this separation anxiety. In personal lives each one knows his/her hopelessness in judgment before God. All have sinned and fallen short of his glory as the wages of sin is death. Each one lives in a sinful world, the environment that distracts each one from what God made each one to be, what God made this world to be, good, very good. It is separation from good, God’s holy goodness.
God made you to love you. God made you to love him. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose,” [v. 28]. God’s purpose for each person is to love each and every one and for each to love him, to live in that perfect love. None of God’s work is an accident. It is always his plan to call by the Gospel, to justify through faith in him through Jesus Christ, and to glorify believers at the final resurrection. God speaks these words through Paul to be a continuing reminder that his purpose will prevail. Remember in last week’s reading he told us, “…that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” [8:18]. The good that comes out of temporary sufferings, how God has delivered through many trials and situations, points ahead to what he has put aside for you, eternity with him in heaven.
Separation anxiety sets in over and over in this sinful world. There is tribulation. There is distress. There is persecution. There is famine. There is nakedness, the need for food and shelter and provisions. There is another kind of nakedness. It is the shame being exposed in one’s sin. There is danger. There is sword, the threat of others who would do harm or steal. Yes, the world considers each person as a sheep to be slaughtered. Any victory or success appears out of one’s grasp. Death is for certain.
Paul continues the promise, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” [v. 31]. That is the purpose of the cross. God gave up his dearest one, his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him will have eternal life. We can begin to understand this as we look at the loved ones of a person who has lost his/her life in warfare or protecting others. We call that person’s death “their sacrifice.” They did not want to lose their loved one. If they could have changed things, they would have. How many times have we heard a parent state that they wish they could have died in place of their child? God, in his love, did not hold back but willingly gave up his one and only son as the price to save all. That is the proof of his love. If he would give up his one and only son for you, would he not also give you all other good things?
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul declares that death is “swallowed up in victory.” It is because the victory has been given in Jesus Christ. When Jesus became man, died and rose again, God has given you that victory that you will die to sin but be alive again in him, in the same glory that Jesus now has. Remember earlier in this section of Romans that God has adopted you as his dear child for just this purpose.
The great passage of comfort as each one goes out today to face the world from the weather to the issues of life from the inside out, “”For I am sure…” There is no doubt that God’s promise is good. “…that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” [v. 38].
God does not want you to be separated from him. He wants you with him each step of life on earth and into life eternal in heaven. Death and hell are eternal separations for those who turn away from him. But Jesus’ declaration rings comfort and strength to each one who hears and believes, “I am the way and the truth and the life,” [John 14:6].
That is Jesus undying love to you. Amen.