As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure 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 8:36-39 ESV
What are the “these things” Paul to which Paul is referring? To get the answer, all you have to do is look at the preceding verse where he lists tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and the sword. Paul says that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 ESV). And, according to Paul, we aren’t just survivors, we’re thrivers. The phrase he uses, “more than conquerors” is actually a compound word in Greek. It is hypernikaō and the first half means “exceedingly abundantly, over, beyond, more than.” We don’t just conquer, we hyper-conquer. Or better yet, we overcome, because that is what the second half of the compound word means. The Greek word nikaō means “to overcome, to carry off the victory, come off victorious” (Outline of Biblical Usage). In the end, we come off victorious in a big way. Why? Because God is for us. He has justified us. And He will one day glorify us. So all “these things” that happen to us in this life are nothing compared to the love and faithfulness of God.
From our limited, human perspectives, we tend to view things just as the psalmist did who Paul quotes. “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered” (Psalm 44:22 ESV). In that very same psalm, we read the words…
O God, we have heard it with our own ears—
our ancestors have told us
of all you did in their day,
in days long ago:
You drove out the pagan nations by your power
and gave all the land to our ancestors.
You crushed their enemies
and set our ancestors free.
They did not conquer the land with their swords;
it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory.
It was your right hand and strong arm
and the blinding light from your face that helped them,
for you loved them. – Psalm 44:1-3 NLT
The psalmist went on to talk of their need for and dependence upon God.
I do not trust in my bow;
I do not count on my sword to save me.
You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies;
you disgrace those who hate us. – Psalm 44:6-7 NLT
Just as God had saved their ancestors in the past, so they were counting on God defending and protecting them from their own enemies. The psalmist knew that the key to their ultimate victory was the presence and power of God. And Paul knew the same thing. Which is why he qualified his description of us as “more than conquerors“ with the words, “through him who loved us.” Our victory over the troubles and trials of this life is completely dependent upon the love of God as expressed in the sacrifice of His Son. God’s love for us is perfect and complete. His love includes not only our salvation, but our ultimate glorification. Which is why Paul can so confidently say, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NLT).
There is no doubt that at times we feel as if God has fallen out of love with us. Difficulties have a way of making us feel as if we are unloved. In the midst of our trials, we wonder where God has gone or why He is doing nothing to remedy our problem. The psalmist knew exactly how that felt.
But now you have tossed us aside in dishonor.
You no longer lead our armies to battle.
You make us retreat from our enemies
and allow those who hate us to plunder our land.
You have butchered us like sheep
and scattered us among the nations.
You sold your precious people for a pittance,
making nothing on the sale. – Psalm 44:9-12 NLT
The psalmist even claims their innocence.
All this has happened though we have not forgotten you.
We have not violated your covenant.
Our hearts have not deserted you.
We have not strayed from your path. – Psalm 44:17-18 NLT
From his perspective, God was strangely silent and non-active. He was the key to their rescue, but He appeared to be distant and disinterested in their plight.
Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
Get up! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you look the other way?
Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?
We collapse in the dust,
lying face down in the dirt.
Rise up! Help us!
Ransom us because of your unfailing love. – Psalm 44:23-26 NLT
But Paul would have us remember that God has already provided the victory. We are already super-overcomers. Why? Because our sins have been forgiven. We have been made right in His eyes and stand before Him as justified and as good as glorified already. There is nothing that can happen to us in this life that will ever separate us from God’s love. He has already ransomed and redeemed us. We are His children and heirs to His kingdom. In the latter years of his life, Paul was able to tell Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NLT). Our victory is assured. We will overcome. We will enjoy the full measure of the love of God which will culminate with our glorification. “And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us” (Romans 8:23 NLT).