Are in a season of you life where you have…Nothing? Nothing left in opinions. Nothing left in answers. Nothing left in the emotional tank. Nothing left in energy. All that’s left is emotional weariness. The blankness beyond questioning. The weariness beyond walking where you can only stand still in your tracks and say, “I’ve got Nothing.”
That’s a bit where I’ve been. Walking in the land of Nothing. On Monday, I received the news that my third friend in four months has been diagnosed with cancer. All three friends are healthy. Strong. Young. Two of them each have three children, all of whom are under the age of 10. In a matter of days, I turn 37, and I thought one received news of this sort when turning 77. Or 67. But 37? Come on. This is the season of life when we are supposed to be attending birthday parties for each other’s children, not prayer sessions fighting for friend’s very lives.
So yesterday, I was feeling like I had a whole lot of Nothing. Nothing in my proverbial pockets. Nothing up my theological sleeves. Nothing left to say or to give or with which to encourage.
That’s when, out of the corner of my eye in a bookstore, I saw a stack of t-shirts neatly folded in their plastic sleeves. They were normal looking as far as t-shirts go, but it was the word on the front that grabbed my attention and caused me to look twice. It said: Nothing.
That’s it. Just the word “Nothing.” But right below it, it had more than a word; it had a promise that infused that word with meaning. It said: Romans 8:38.
Now I know that verse. I know it because seven years ago, I had a beloved cousin take his life, and that was the verse my God-fearing aunt clung to.
Romans 8:38 says, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Eugene Peterson’s translation, The Message, says it this way: “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
That infuses a new meaning into the word Nothing, doesn’t it? My Nothing has a bunch of brokenness behind it and empty pockets attached to it. But God’s Nothing has His love infused into its very core. His fullness behind it. His Promises bolstering it. And as only God can do, He takes our Nothing and turns it on His head. Instead of becoming a recipe for disaster, it becomes just one more way for Him to astound us with the richness of His love.
So that’s what I am clinging to today. Trust me, I still feel like I’ve got Nothing. And my friends have Nothing. But it’s a kind of Nothing that leaves no room for anything else but Jesus. It’s a kind of Nothing bolstered by the Arms of the Father wrapped around each person that loves and trusts Him. It’s a kind of Nothing that fills our pockets with radical, reckless promises of hope when all we see is weary death. It’s a kind of Nothing that pursues us with the radical grace of God and fills our pockets with the richness of His love when everything else around us is falling apart.
I’m banking on Nothing today. For my friends. For their families. And for me. What about you? Are you ready for Nothing? Then emblazon Romans 8:38 on your heart and mind, and hold onto your pockets so that they don’t burst. His Love is enough for all of us who say we’ve got Nothing…Nothing but Him.