Ministry Resources

The Empty List

Author: Jodi Detrick

It could easily be the world’s scariest list if it had even one thing on it. But I’ve looked. There’s nothing there–zip, nada. The list of things that can separate you from God’s love is blank.

On the other hand, the list of things (found in Romans 8:38-39) that can not separate you from God’s love is l-o-n-g and all inclusive:


The ultimate maker of untold forced separations–the relentless foe who divides friend from friend, who seems bent on wrenching away the widow’s heart and the orphan’s hope–even this most dreaded intruder cannot keep God’s love from seeping into the broken places of the soul and penetrating the thickest, most suffocating grief. Not that terminal illness. Not this life-stealing accident. Not even the soul-shuddering horror of yet another mass shooting on a college campus. God’s love calls the bluff of this first-on-the-list separator. If anything should be able to keep us apart from divine affection, death would be it. But in His Son’s death (and conquering of death), God comes even nearer to the grieving one and folds the bereaved soul into His heart. It is no accident that humanity’s most feared enemy, and one we all must face at some point, tops the cannot separate us from God’s love list.


Now there’s a broad category for you. Every breath and each heartbeat, days that are long and monotonous, nights scraped with worry, seasons of surprised delight, and moments of swirling confusion. It’s all just part of life, they say: stacks of bills and dirty dishes, unrelenting responsibilities, tearing conflicts with those you love most, disappointment with yourself over personal weaknesses that should’ve been conquered years ago, medical tests, lost jobs, calendars that are full and dreams that are empty. Just part of life…the part that makes living one more day seem almost undoable.

But listen up, life. No matter what’s going on externally, in the ebb and flow of circumstances, you don’t get to call the shots of the heart’s response. And you sure don’t get to play keep-away with God’s love. It’s there. It’s shining through in that pink-tinged sunrise, in the bell-like trill of a child’s laughter, in the empathetic eyes of a friend who’s been where you are and cares. It comes in hard, to punch holes in our loneliness–it walks in softly, to embrace us in our brokenness with the stunning words of Jesus–some of His sweetest: I will never leave you. Take that, life.

It just goes on and on and on

This list of completely powerless things when it comes to walling us off from God’s love: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons [so, nothing in the spirit world], neither the present nor the future [nothing you’re dealing with now or will ever face up ahead], nor any powers [no human, no system, no government, no authority], neither height nor depth [no obstacle too tall, no pain too deep], nor anything else in all creation [that pretty much covers it, doesn’t it? All-inclusive], will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:38-39, New International Version, emphasis added).

There you have it. The world’s scariest list is empty. And with that, our hearts can be full.

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