How does the suffering that we experience in this present evil age fit with the triumph that we have as we are united by faith with the risen, exalted Christ? In Romans 8:18 Paul counts the present sufferings not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us. But in Romans 8:36-39 it is precisely in our present sufferings that Paul affirms that we are more than conquerors.
Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 to describe our situation. What could be less triumphant than a sheep about to be slaughtered. The Psalm is the cry of people who feel abandoned by God. Yet it is in that context that Paul points you to God’s love in Christ. That love focuses on the cross, but includes the care you continue to receive from the exalted Christ.
It sounds paradoxical, but it is precisely as sheep about to be slaughtered that we are more than conquerors.
“He is the beloved Son, in whom the Father is well pleased. If, then, we are through him united to God, we may be assured of the immutable and unfailing kindness of God towards us. . . . [Paul] declares that the fountain of love is in the Father, and affirms that it flows to us from Christ.” (John Calvin, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, at Romans 8:39).
(The 101 Bible Study meets this Friday, July 21)