Romans 8:35 (English Standard Version)
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Not too long ago, in the news was the worrying case of young children in Thailand who went missing in caves. Along with their football coach, 12 young boys went exploring only to get trapped almost 1KM below ground. For two weeks they were inside and only a miraculous rescue effort brought all 13 people back to safety. Unfortunately, one of the rescue workers died in the process.
Reading about the conditions underground, I shuddered at the thought of being in their place. They were almost 2 miles away from the cave entrance and only half of that distance was manageable on foot. The rest was underwater as a result of flash flooding during their exploration.
Parts of the cave were almost 10 metres high. Others were less than 1 metre. I cannot imagine what that would have been like. The rescuers couldn’t even use an oxygen tank on their back because the tunnel was too narrow. Somehow, they managed to get everyone back to safety despite the incredibly challenging conditions.
I know of some people who seriously claustrophobic and the thought of being in a tunnel like that would freak them out to the extreme. The narrowness of the tunnel and the real feeling that it’s getting even narrower is terrifying.
What does any of that have to do with Romans 8:35? Well, the second word translated here as ‘distress’ is a very interesting word. The root meaning is ‘a narrow place’.
I’m sure that none of us have ever had an experience similar to those Thai children, but I know that many of us have been in circumstances that seem to be closing in on us and we can’t see any way out. What started as a comfortable walk became more and more perilous and distressing. It felt like the walls were closing in on us and we seemingly struggled to breathe. The next time anything like this happens, I want you to remember the meaning of this word and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that however narrow the place seems to be, you will never, ever be separated from God’s love.
Perhaps it would be good for a few minutes today to look back at some of those most distressing moments in your life. Then begin to thank God that He has brought you out. Take comfort and know for sure that God’s love is always there even in the toughest of places.