For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Romans 8:38-39
Ever since terms like “social distancing,” self-quarantine,” and “shelter in place” became a part of our everyday vocabulary, walks around the block have become a part of my family’s daily routine. Weather permitting, the four of us get out the front door as much as three times a day to enjoy the fresh air and escape the confines of the house.
But I use the term “walk” loosely, because both of the kids make their way around the neighborhood on wheels. Katherine, of course, rides in her stroller. Andrew, on the other hand, likes to get around on his white Little Tikes-style Mercedes Benz (the only Mercedes he’s going to own for a very long time, as we’ve repeatedly warned him.) While Lindsey and I trudge behind with the stroller, he zooms ahead as fast as his legs can push the car.
His favorite part, as you might imagine, are the downhill stretches, where he can lift his feet up and go at top speed. But when you’re making a loop, everything that goes down must eventually go back up, and that’s where things get a little more difficult. By the end of every walk, he’s pleading with us to carry him and his car: “I’m tiiiired. Please carry me!” Our response is always the same—he’ll have to work his way up the hill, but we’ll stay with him the whole way.
Life has a way of functioning like one of those jaunts around our neighborhood. Sometimes you’re zooming downhill without a care in the world; things are free and easy and the last thing you want is anybody to get in your way. But eventually you come to an uphill climb, a time when every day feels like a challenge and you can barely muster the energy to go on.
It’s on those uphill climbs that we tend to cry out to God for deliverance, begging Him to lift us out of our struggles and put us on an easier path. Sometimes, as Scripture shows us, God does just that, miraculously rescuing His people from lions’ dens and flaming furnaces. But more often, the Father’s response in troubled times is not to take away His children’s problems, but promise His presence in the midst of them. God doesn’t guarantee He’ll pick us up when things get difficult—but He does promise to stay with us the whole way.
Especially in this time of physical distancing, there is renewed value in knowing that God never leaves us nor forsakes us. As we long for connection, we are reminded that the Lord is with us even to the end of the age. Separated though we are from the places and pursuits and people we love, nothing separates us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. Life is an uphill battle right now, but take comfort in this: it is not a climb you are undertaking alone.