2021 Rooted Devotions for Students: Hardship Has No Hold on Jesus
Going back to school in a pandemic was tough in 2020; it might even be harder in 2021. Disagreements about vaccines, the threat of catching COVID, the looming possibility of cancellations and shutdowns – and the strife surrounding it all – leave us exhausted and searching for solid ground. The promises of God that we find in Scripture are that solid ground. Over the next two weeks on the Rooted blog we will offer short devotions for you to share* with your teenagers, examining promises from God that our writers find profoundly comforting. In an uncertain world, God says, “I, the Lord, do not change” (Malachi 3:6); may his faithfulness fill us with hope and joy in the months to come.
Have you ever prayed for an aspect of your life to remain free from suffering? It’s only natural for us to long for days that are free from turmoil and tears. In fact, God uses that innate desire to point us to eternity. If you believe in Jesus, there will be a day when life will be free from all the messiness.
But in the now, there is no avoiding the reality that life can be difficult. Maybe you’ve experienced a strained relationship with your parents, or perhaps you’re living with shame that haunts you when you lie awake at night. Maybe you’re anxious about being accepted at a new school. As you anticipate starting a new year, no one can say exactly what it will be like. We all learned from COVID that there are often twists and turns that produce disappointments.
I’m not writing, though, to simply have you sit in the inevitability of future struggle. In fact, I want to do just the opposite by encouraging you with one of the most beautiful promises from Jesus when you face hardship in this coming year. That promise comes from Romans 8:28-29:
“For I am sure 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.”
I pray that in this coming year you will grow in surety of God’s love for you. His love for you overcomes every trial that may be a part of the journey ahead. His love for you does not end, and it is not dependent on you always doing the right thing. His love for you is greater and more powerful than my feeble words can adequately portray, but know that as a child of God, there is no hardship you will face that can ever separate you from God’s love for you in Christ Jesus.
God’s Love Overcomes Our Fear of Dying
The death of someone you love cannot separate you from God’s love. Yes, death is a part of our broken world, and Jesus grieves with us when we face loss. He shed tears as heavily over death as we do today (John 11:35). But not even this can separate us from the tangible love of God. In our grief, the love of Jesus is very present.
God’s Love Overcomes Our Present Anxieties
Each of us can make a list of what causes us to worry in the here and now, and each person’s list probably looks a little different. The promise from God is that even if all these hardships were compiled, that massive list of anxieties would not be greater than the love of God. Nothing that you are anxious about is strong enough to separate you from Jesus.
God’s Love Overcomes our “What-ifs”
Sometimes, our worries are more about what is to come. “What if” I don’t get into my top college? “What if” my relationship with my boyfriend ends? “What if” I can’t pass a particular class? “What if” I’m rejectedby my friends? This promise reminds us that God’s love has already overcome all that we will face in the future. In fact, he will give us exactly the strength and wisdom we need exactly when we need it. In this, God demonstrates His incomparable love.
God’s Love Overcomes Every Possible Hardship
There is nothing in all of creation – no thing or person – that can separate you from God. Sometimes, the hardship in this life is a result of our own sin and wrongdoing. Have you ever heard someone say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle?” The reality is that the trials that we face, and the sins that we struggle with, are often more than we can handle, but none if is ever too much for God. He will never give you anything that HE can’t handle. Because this is true, there is no sin or adversity that will cause your heavenly Father to become distant from you. We remain secure in Christ because of His great love.
What is the result of holding fast to this promise? You will never have a life free from hardship, but trusting God’s love gives you security amid ever-changing mandates and rules. His love gives you hope when you’re despairing or feeling uncertain about the future. And if you feel alone or afraid, this promise reminds you that you have a heavenly Father who loves you beyond comprehension and who will always and forever be with you.
*Click here for a printable pdf of this devotional.