Nothing Can Separate Us
by Jessica LaGrone
Do you have any obstacles in your life? Anything that you are bumping up against? Me too. Here’s a Scripture that really speaks to me when I’m facing obstacles:
"I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powersor height or depth, or any other thing that is created."
Romans 8: 38-39 (Common English Bible)
Did you catch that important word? Nothing. Nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God. Nothing can stand in the way of God’s purposes for His people.
Take that verse and personalize it. For I am convinced that blank—whatever it is for you—cannot separate me from the love of God. That’s the truth. What is trying to get in the way of God’s plan for your life? Whatever it is, it is not going to work because God is over all of creation. And none of it can stop His purposes for you.
In Joseph's story in Genesis, we learn that neither bad parenting nor intense murderous sibling rivalry could separate him from the love of God. Neither could being sold into slavery in Egypt nor being forgotten in prison for years. When ultimately raised to second in command of the entire nation, Joseph is put in the position to save the lives of his family during a time of famine. Would he forgive and forget? Or would he take revenge for what had been done to him? The turning point comes when his brother Judah sacrifices himself for his younger brother Benjamin. At that moment, Joseph's heart is turned.
Sacrifice moves people. Sacrifice breaks us. When we learn that someone has done something for us, not in his or her own interest but in ours, it makes us wonder, why would you do this for me? And of the twelve tribes of Israel that these brothers came to represent, it was Judah’s tribe that would become Jesus’ tribe. Jesus is called “The Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” This is the tribe of sacrifice, of laying down one’s life. Sacrifice can change the world. It’s the only thing that ever has. And at that moment Joseph could no longer contain himself. These brothers who had had no concern for him, no mercy for his father’s feelings—now one was offering his own life in exchange for Benjamin’s life. Time had transformed their hearts just as it had matured Joseph.
If you look at Genesis 50:20 you’ll find Joseph saying this: “As for you, you make evil against me, but God meant it for good.” When we look back we can see God was at work even when things were the most miserable in our lives. God doesn’t cause our hurts, but He doesn’t waste them either. He can use them to transform and change us. That’s what happened to Joseph as he forgave and allowed his brothers back into his life.
The perfect Son of God was born into this imperfect broken family—the family of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Esau, Rachel and Leah, and Joseph and all of those brothers. And he gave us life so that we could be adopted into this family. As followers of Jesus we are called members of the family of God—God’s secret weapon. And it’s our job to share God’s love in a hurting and broken world. That is the most important work we will ever do. And it all begins with a family—this perfectly imperfect place that God gives to us. Despite our brokenness we have been blessed to be a blessing.
Based on Broken and Blessed, Jessica's new Bible study on the book of Genesis. For ordering information, click here.
Jessica LaGrone is an Associate Pastor at The Woodlands United Methodist Church in The Woodlands, Texas. An acclaimed preacher, teacher, and author, Jessica enjoys speaking at retreats and events at churches throughout the United States. She and her husband, Jim, have two young children, Drew and Kate.