Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, . .” (Romans 5:1)

I want to stop reading right there, beloved reader. I do not want or need at this moment anything more than knowing I have peace with the Divine. Right now all the heavy loads that I have been carrying for, well, for too long are resting heavy on me. To be able to know I have peace with the Divine because my faith – that is, the faith I have and the faith I profess – invites me to lay down my burdens, rest, and be at peace. I don’t NEED anything else. But Paul insists on continuing his exhortation.

“. . . through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Verses 2 – 5)

Actually, I needed all of that too! Granted, Paul maybe talking about himself. However, if you remember some time back I discovered that I was “righteous”; that realization took place over several days of my writing, and I did not make a big deal of it. But yes, I am righteous. Maybe even in the same stream of thinking that Paul used in describing his sufferings. Now, you may ask, have I suffered like Paul? No, not like Paul. But over the years answering the call of the Divine has meant that my journey has tested me in many ways. And I have endured, which has made me quite a “character”! (I tease, beloved reader. I am actually known for my caring and compassion.) And I have hope – which some days is all that gets me through. And I know the Divine’s love through the Holy Presence.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” (Verses 6 – 8)

I feel I should say something in response to Paul’s assertion of salvation and redemption of us before we proved ourselves worthy (because that is essentially what he is saying). But because of my personal faith journey, it is hard for me to put into words how I receive this. My grandfather was a preacher and evangelist, so I grew up from little on up knowing that I needed salvation. It was as much a part of my growing up as loosing my baby teeth was. It has just always been there! And my personal theology says that the Divine’s love so covered us that the gap between being sinners and being saved was so infinitesimal that not even the most advanced of scientific technology could measure it.

“Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Verses 9 – 11)

How it must have affected Paul to have persecuted the followers of Jesus before his Damascus road experience. When I read his letters, I am struck by both his humbleness at having made that error and his determination to let his readers know how much he has suffered for it. He calls himself the least likely to be worthy of forgiveness and reconciliation. Yet he is insistent that he has it, and that it is both available and necessary. I sincerely hope that Paul did enjoy peace with the Divine. I hope too, beloved reader, that have that same peace during the season of Lent and beyond. Selah!