Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. - Psalm 42:11
"Your sorrow will be turned into joy." - John 16:20 (NKJV)
Two-year reading texts: Psalm 34:1-7; Ezra 8:1-20; Romans 1:13-25
One of the most powerful statements in Paul's letter to the Romans comes at the end of his introduction:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "The one who is righteous will live by faith."
He'll continue to explain the gospel, or "good news," about Jesus. And in this letter, he makes clear that this powerful news comes as a gift from God, by grace. It results in faith and righteousness and justification. The gospel brings salvation.
One of my favorite metaphors for God's salvation is being rescued from drowning. There are situations in life where we are just totally "under water," and need intervention from someone more powerful, who's not limited by the same forces that are threatening us. Like a drowning person is rescued by someone stronger and with better footing, we are saved by God who reaches down into our situation and draws us out into something better.
Today's verses hint at another thing we can learn from this metaphor. It's easy enough to imagine being "saved from" what endangers us. We know from our own lives, and can find plenty of examples in scripture, of people being saved from all kinds of trouble.
But we are also "saved for" something. When we're delivered, we're capable of doing things we couldn't before. Maybe it's as simple as being able to breathe, speak, move, and survive more than a few minutes. Maybe it's more comprehensive, as being able to live a life unencumbered by worry or guilt; to know that our existence has meaning and value; to discover how forgiveness and mercy release us to build, or rebuild, life-giving relationships with others.
This is how our lives are changed, and our sorrows turned to joy. May we give thanks for the gift of the gospel, the power of God for salvation for all. May we be freed from the things that entrap us, and freed for the fullness of life God intends for us.