Scripture: Romans 8:14-30
Observation: Paul begins by sharing that we are all children of God and through our faith in Jesus, we get to be heirs to all of God’s promises, which comes with sharing in his glory and in his suffering as well. Until God returns, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us through our sin, suffering, and weakness. Even when we don’t know what to pray for or what to ask for, the Holy Spirit guides us, and allows everything to work together for our good.
Application: White shirts…blue jeans…sandy dunes…forced smiles…you know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Oh yes, we’re talking about family photos.
Now somehow I avoided the dreaded white shirt/blue jean combo I mentioned above (I’m assuming quite a few of you have not been as lucky), but I had my fair share of awkward family photos. Take the church directory photos, for example. Those might actually be worse than the forced family beach photo shoot. I’m no photographer, but I’m about 100% sure that it’s impossible to make a family look good while sitting awkwardly in front of a velour gray background in a dimly light church basement. This is how that situation typically went: my sister and I were always wearing ridiculously puffy dresses with matching bows, my dad’s eyes were always closed, and my mom was always smiling in a formal, matronly fashion while mentally debating whether or not to buy a canvas of this shot to put above our family piano.
Thank goodness we can now just take a selfie on our iPhones and send it straight to Snapfish, throw it into a Merry Christmas template, order 100 cards, and call it a day, right?
So while family photos were forced and awkward and usually ended up being displayed on that photo canvas for the next 20 years, there was something pretty binding about them as well. Those photos said: We might have pulled haired, yelled, and argued on the way here, but these are my people. We belong to each other. And we love each other. Family sticks together.
Paul tells us the same thing today: We’re children of God. We’re his people. We belong to him. We’re loved by him. We’re gonna stick together and he’s not going to leave us.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.”
We are forever children of God. Now, unfortunately, sometimes we don’t know what it feels like to have a supportive, forever family. Some of us grew up in broken families, some of us with no families at all. Some of us had families but we never felt like we fit in with them or were good enough for them. Some of us felt hurt by or excluded from our families. Some of us don’t know what it’s like to have an “Abba Father,” a daddy who loves us and supports us unconditionally, someone who is with us and for us.
But when it comes to being children of God, all of that stuff is gone. The brokenness, the questioning, the doubt, the exclusion – it’s gone. We belong. We will always be sons and daughters of the King. We’ll always be in the family photo. We’ll always be loved by him, encouraged through him, enough for him.
And best of all, he’s looking out for us. He’s making sure we don’t do life alone. Look at verse 26:
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”
I’m not a parent, but isn’t this what a parent does? They help us – even when we don’t know the first step. They pray for us – sometimes their prayers are clear and fluent, other times they’re so full of emotion that they come out as pleas, as groanings. When God is with us, he helps us through our weakness and “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him.”
He causes everything to work together for good. That trial you’re facing right now? It’ll work together for your good. That diagnosis you just received? It’ll work together for your good. That relationship that just imploded? It’ll work together for your good. All of it. Everything. Every trial, every opportunity, every problem, every challenge – it’s all working together for your good. You have a Daddy in Heaven orchestrating it all.
You belong in the family photo. You’re a child of God.
Prayer: Abba Father, thank you for who you are. Thank you for choosing me, accepting me, allowing everything to work together for my good as one of your children. I pray I can learn how to live confidently as a child of the God Most High. Amen.