“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
The moment you choose to follow Jesus is the moment you choose to head down a path of persecution and worldly opposition (2 Tim. 3:12). Of all the promises afforded us by the Scriptures, none guarantee our life will be easy or comfortable but instead assure of just the opposite: “If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you,” was the warning of Christ to His disciples, yet they counted the sufferings of this present time unworthy to be compared with what they knew their Lord could offer (John 15:20; Rom. 8:18). We are told from the beginning exactly what we’re getting ourselves into by becoming a Christian and it should be anything but surprising when trouble comes our way.
Not only should we expect persecution, but we should follow the example of the apostles by learning to rejoice in them (Acts 5:41). Certainly the trial itself gives us no reason to be joyful, but the knowledge that we are living in obedience to the Scriptures and their Author in a noticeable way is reason enough to leap for joy (Luke 6:23). For each hardship, consider both the physical and mental sufferings of Christ which far surpassed what any of us are able to experience or imagine (Heb. 12:3). Did He agonize and weep? Of course! That’s never the problem, as long as we can pray the same prayer He did in the garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) Nobody ever having prayed these words from their heart was given a heavier load than they were able to bear (1 Cor. 10:13).
It’s helpful when we understand that, just as no man can serve two masters (Matt. 6:24), it is impossible for a person to feed their soul while indulging their flesh. How many of us actually faced persecution when our soul was being starved of truth? In most cases it’s not until a person embraces things of eternal importance that they begin to encounter opposition, and so rather than despairing when rejected for your faith, learn rather to “rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matt 5:12)
“Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
-1 Peter 4:16
To answer the question Paul presented in Romans 8, if God is for us then technically a lot of people will probably stand against us. If a God of righteousness and truth calls you His child then don’t count on this world of wickedness and deceit to congratulate you for your newfound faith in Christ. The message of this verse is not that we’ll never face opposition, but that, if the Lord is our Shepherd, we have absolutely nothing to fear (Ps. 27:1). Who can take away your home, comfort, or possessions? Just about anybody. Who can take away your salvation? Jesus Himself answered this question in John 10:28 when He declared, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.”
Isn’t it great to know that God is on our side? More specifically, to know that He is for us? His thoughts toward us, according to the Psalmist, “cannot be reckoned up in order…they are more than can be numbered.” (40:5) The God Whom Scripture says neither slumbers nor sleeps relentlessly watches over His saints, counting their steps and directing their path in His wisdom and love (Ps. 121:4; Job 31:4; John 16:13).
This is the comfort we are offered by the Scriptures, not the false gospel of earthly prosperity often preached today. As a Christian, know that you will most certainly face the valley of the shadow of death and be forced to walk through the very midst of it (Ps. 23:4). “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Cor. 15:57) To the Christian, death is only a shadow. Its sting does not harm us, for we are saved. Its victory is no more, for our Savior lives! No man has the power to lay anything to the charge of God’s elect and we can live in peace, knowing our eternity is safely held in the same hands which hold the universe (Rom. 8:33; Col. 1:17).