Romans: Day 26

God’s Kindness and Severity

by

Today's Text: Romans 11:1-24, Hosea 14:4-7, Ephesians 2:8-9

Scripture Reading: Romans 11:1-24, Hosea 14:4-7, Ephesians 2:8-9

The first time I read Romans 11, I saw God as very kind.

But today, that kindness seems far away30,000 miles below me, to be exact. This time, I’m reading Romans from seat 12B, squished between two strangers. And the pilot has just warned us that “significant turbulence” is ahead.

A hush fell over the cabin in that awkward “I’m playing it cool” kind of way. Because it’s totally going to be fine. I mean, how likely is that whole “unlikely” in-case-of-an-emergency situation, anyway?

We’re all eyeing the flight attendants to gauge their uneasiness.

Just when you’ve settled into your seat and become comfortable with God’s kindness, the winds shift. His tender mercies can also feel severe. Regardless of how much we show it, we’re all afraid of crashing.

The Romans were afraid of this too. After all, Israel had taken a hard fall following God’s rejection, so it only seemed natural for this band of new believers to begin bracing themselves for a similar emergency landing. They were afraid that if God didn’t turn out to be who He said He was, they’d have to take matters into their own hands.

It’s in moments like these that sweet songs about God’s kindness and goodness do not trump the truth about His severity. Just like we need the fullness of God’s character, we need to know the fullness of His Truth.

Although the pilot reassures us that everything is under control, I’m tempted to entertain anxious questions. Did they check the plane to make sure it was safe before we boarded? Is the pilot keeping something from us? Is everything really just fine?

When bad things happen that we don’t understand, are we just naïve to keep hoping? Will God reject us like He rejected Israel? It’s when we face the unknown that we find out how well we trust God’s character… which brings me to Jello.

Created by pilot and therapist Captain Tom Bunn to illustrate turbulence, the Jello Exercise compares a plane’s high-traveling, air-thickening speeds to being encased in Jello. While turbulent bumps may make you feel like you’re falling from the sky, it’s actually more like tapping the top of a Jello mold: the plane can bounce up and down, but it cannot fall. In fact, it barely moves at all. Regardless of the bumps, the plane is sustained, completely, by a force we can’t even see.

So are God’s people.

“Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree, do not boast that you are better than those branches. But if you do boast—you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you” (Romans 11:17-18).

It is by grace that we cannot fully comprehend what it takes to sustain us. Not only does God know exactly what it takes, but in His kindness He sent Jesus to endure the severity for us. When love isn’t taken lightly, grace must also be severe.

It takes an intense, thickening wind to keep a plane steady in the clouds. It takes a kind, severe God to sustain us for His glory. Today, He is not only kind, but also severe, and exactly Who we need.

“The people will return and live beneath his shade. They will grow grain and blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon” (Hosea 14:7).

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  • I am in complete awe. My whole live I have been viewing the love of God in such a wrong way, especially lately. I’ve had panic attacks and depression that just takes captive of my heart, a heart hardened toward God. I’m afraid God is going to be disappointment with me or is going to take things away from me due to past sin. I am afraid, but this proves me all wrong. God loves me regardless! God is guiding me and protecting me in every step. He is my root! He is in control, I just have to trust Him. If you come across this please pray for me, for God to soften my heart and accept His love fully. Thank You.

    • Pamfran

      Prayers for you, Lex! What a wonderful new understanding you have! God is most definitely in control during the hard and during the joyful!

  • I love the information you gave on JELLO thank you for offering these studies as free :-)

  • I understand the dichotomy of God’s kindness and severity,but I was confused about the meaning of this statement: “When love isn’t taken lightly, Grace must also be severe.” Help!

    • My Morning Song

      I looked up the meaning of the word severe and it really helped me to better understand! When I hear the word severe I think of harsh and strict, but when I looked it up I found words like intense, resilience, skillful or masterful, fierce, strong, powerful. So if we replace the word severe with one of those words it sounds more like this, “When love isn’t taken lightly(Jesus death on the cross), Grace must also be intense, powerful, strong, fierce.”
      I hope that helps!

    • lish

      Lish

    • lish

      I took a week to ponder over this statement too. Finally today when I read it again, the comprehension came. I think it means that when the love for you is so treasured, so deep, so valued, then the grace that gave it to you must be very strong, very intense, very powerful. Does that make it more clear?

  • Stacey Pardoe

    This is a beautiful depiction of God’s character and the way he works in our lives. I loved your narrative approach, and I’m so blessed by your words! Thanks for this ministry and for speaking truth so eloquently!

  • Lydia Romanin

    I love this dichotomy of God being kind, but also severe. The Bible is full of dichotomies like this and sometimes it’s hard to grasp, but when we remember that God is the creator of purpose and intention, we realize that even the hard-to-grasp dichotomies are part of a God who is “exactly Who we need.”

  • Christina L

    A day behind and just finished this reading. I have been moved and blessed today by these scriptures, Kaitlin’s words and all of your sharing. Lately I have been meditating on the words of the MercyMe song “Even If”. Praying for and over you all. May we all know that “it is well with my soul” in the midst of wherever life finds today.

  • https://youtu.be/EG-l1kK-BpU
    This song came to mind as I read this beautiful piece today…
    Jesus be the centre..

    Bless you Kaitlin, and thank you… I shall be reading it again before the day is out…
    His grace, however is comes is always the best…what is needed..

  • Romans 11:1-24
    Taking care of myself is the hardest thing in the world for me to do. It feels selfish, narcissistic, uncaring and irresponsible. My dear friend text me this morning asking for prayer. She was being directed boldly, severely, by God to be strong in Him, trust Him and use her God given tools to take care of herself. I told her I thought God was obsessed with this command in my own life. I totally empathize with her. It feels easier at times to ho with the flow and not rock the boat by saying no. It’s a real God complex if you think about it. I am human. I am incapable of ALL. When I find myself in that mode, time after time, I am amAzed and resentful. I immediately want to blame others. The truth is, it’s usually all my own doing! Instead of taking care of myself and allowing God to meet the needs of others, I am interfering with what could be others God moments and losing my mind. I have no doubt about my salvation. However, I sometimes doubt my sanity, as I get so wrapped up in figuring everything out. I end up forgetting all the things I’ve learned and know. I have to stop the crazy train, get off and recall my steps, in order to remember where I put, what I already know to be true.
    Most of the time, it’s a tiny little voice saying, “no, not a good idea,” and me rushing past. Or a fear of rejection or guilt. Or just a dumb decision that I have not thought out, in the name of feeling good about doing for another.
    The damnedest thing is, I know, in this life, I will never, ever, master this. I am just too human. It’s absolute submission to God, at all times and in all things.
    Can’t wait for Eternity❤️

    • Alexis

      I read this and thought, “This is so me!” Thank you so much for sharing and being vulnerable. I’ll pray that we will both learn to put ourselves first without guilt and embrace the blessings that God has for us when we start saying yes to ourselves. ❤

  • Loved this today. So good to remember it is always His grace that sustains, even when it is severe grace. You all have really helped me develop a better understanding of Romans during this study, even those chapters I had previously almost memorized but especially the ones I had struggled with understanding prior to this study. Thank you all and have a wonderful, safe 4th.

  • What an amazing illustration! Thank you so much for sharing this, it was exactly what I needed to read today!

  • “His tender mercies can also feel severe.” This spoke to my heart this morning. Just last week, I was filled with excitement about God’s kindness and goodness as my husband and I told family that we were pregnant for the first time and we were in the midst of buying a house that we love. Then, last night it felt like everything came crumbling down. I found out I had a miscarriage and our house may not be in the condition we thought it was. And in the midst of all of the pain and hurt, I knew I had a choice: do I still trust that God is merciful and kind, even if it feels severe? Do I still trust that He’s good, even when it hurts? Just like a lot in Romans, His severe mercy often doesn’t make sense to me and it can even hurt. But He is still good. He is still full of love. He is not unfamiliar with the pain that I’m experiencing. And unfortunately, I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this pain. I prayed for those of you who have felt the pain of the loss of a child this morning, and I would covet your prayers as well. He is still good.

    • Veronica

      CC- I am so sorry. I went through the exact same thing just a few months back. We found my dream home in our price range and found out we were pregnant… shortly after the pregnancy was announced unviable and the home fell through. My heart broke- the two things I hoped and dreamed of were taken from me.

      Three months have gone by, and it’s insane to see where God has brought us. Now, I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel. His mercies, his kindness in our pain, are worth celebrating.

      Praying for you, sweet sister, as you navigate these rough waters. You are not alone and are fiercely loved.

    • KimN

      I will be praying for you and your husband CC. Sad with you today but rejoicing in your choice to continue trusting Him. Don’t let go no matter how much you hurt. Praying for healing and restoration for your physical self and for your heart. Praying for peace in your soul and clarity & wisdom in making decisions about your house. Love and hugs to you xo
      “I am holding you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Do not be afraid. I am here to help you.” Isaiah 41:13

    • Emily B.

      I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. Your adamant statements about God’s goodness and kindness even in this dark time are really inspiring. Sending lots of love and prayers your way.

    • Jessi

      He is still good. Rest knowing your child is with Him in that goodness. I’m sorry for your loss, I too have a baby in heaven. It’s so painful in the moment but God’s timing is perfect and He will continue the good work He has started in you. He is faithful. Praying for some peace and healing and for God to grow you in this time of grief.

    • Kylee

      He is still good – your words will be an anthem for anyone going through something hard who reads your story here. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news, as we read in the previous devotional (I’m about a week behind!). Your good news, your words — that God is still good, still good, still good — carry so much power in the midst of this storm. May the Lord strengthen and keep you upright! May His kindness come full circle in your life, and may you be blessed for pouring your heart out here where other women like me can be encouraged to keep going, to know that God is good even when his mercies seem too severe to bear.

    • Shannon

      What comes to mind is the song “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott. It’s heartbreakingly true. One of the lines is, “I know you are good, but this don’t feel good right now”. Trust in his goodness. I am so so sorry for your loss. One day, this will all make sense, just not right now.

  • Needed this today as we continue our journey through adoption… thank you!

  • Tochi Heredia

    What a way to end the week! I know several pastors that dread preaching about Romans 9-11, so thank you SRT for not shying away from the hard Truths of the Bible!

    I have been on a plane at night during a severe thunderstorm. The pilot circled over the airport for about 15 minutes until we could land, but when you’re​ right there in the middle of the storm, it feels like it’ll never end.
    That’s how I feel about my life right now. During the past 3 months, I have endured storm after storm, been struck by lightning a couple of times and it feels like I’ll never see the sun and the blue skies ever again.
    Something stood out to me while reading these passages. Yes, God’s grace is sometimes severe and hard to comprehend with our narrow, finite minds. Yet He is merciful and abounding in steadfast love, He doesn’t hold a grudge, He doesn’t stay angry forever. And we have Jesus to intercede in our behalf: mercy and redemption assured.

    I’m drained this morning, but incredibly amazed and grateful for our God and for this community. ❤

    • Bridget

      Lifting you up, Tochi! ❤

    • Emmy

      Tochi, your words speak straight to my heart. Enduring storm after storm, but just as you said, He is merciful and He never gives up on us! I am so encouraged by your faith and by your hope. I’m sending prayers and keep up the good fight! “I will praise You in this storm” ❤️

  • Rebekah DeLibro

    Thank you Kaitlin! Loved this so much and am loving this Romans study, so much I may do it again next month!

  • Kaitlin, this was such a perfectly crafted devotional! A great way to go into my weekend. I’m keeping this one with me!

    • Kaitlin Wernet

      Kari, thank you so much for joining us. Hope you have the best weekend!

  • “Just when you’ve settled into your seat and become comfortable with God’s kindness, the winds shift. His tender mercies can also feel severe. Regardless of how much we show it, we’re all afraid of crashing.”

    How incredibly true those words are. Months ago now my husband became unemployed. As we have spent the past months trying to ascertain what God’s will for him is, we’ve examined a great many things and just last week my husband drove off on an endeavor that will have him away for 4 months about 800 miles away. We aren’t able to manage with schedules and other responsibilities regular trips between our two states but we have settled in to habits that will keep us connected and close as the time passes, in addition to the kiddos, pups and I, making our way up for the occasional visit. To say that He is in the thick of it, is an understatement. He has a large task and knows that this consult could be the start of something great for him, so that pressure combined with the daily missing us, the loneliness, that fear of crashing, can rear it’s ugly head BUT as we both spoke to in our morning conversation today, it brings so much peace knowing *whose* wind is holding each of us up. There are days that we may glide calmly like a kite on an ocean breeze and others that may leave us a little more tattered but ultimately, as Kaitlin so graciously pointed out, that while God’s mercies can feel both incredibly kind and terribly severe, they ARE mercies, none the less. We knew going into this season that we would see God and I was excited, while admittedly nervous, to see what He would do and I continue to be amazed at the results. 4 short months ago I would never have imagined (and in truth, nor desired) my husband be where he is and in 4 more short months I have no idea where he will be or what will happen BUT I know *who* he is grafted to and I know whose shade he lives below. I know you can’t have grain without active sowing, the rose without the thorns and the blossom without the windy vine. Whatever curvy or turbulent part of our path this is, there are mercies and there is great love supporting us, so like a kite to the sky we will rest in the knowledge of who sustains us and who holds us up because despite the hardship, I know that in order to truly fly, you must be free and in order to truly be free, you must have Jesus and if you have Jesus, you have all you need.

    • churchmouse

      Wow. This. Is. Awesome. And just what I needed to hear today. Thank you for letting the Lord speak through your experience to touch me here in mine.

    • Irina

      Thank yoy, B, for such a clear and full of hope story. My husband is a believer but like unbeliever when it comes to relying and hoping. It seems to me that male’s brain is set very different in turns of faith than the female’s. It’s hard to watch him following and not following God at the same time, it’s like selective faith… Your story gives me a hope that some day he will give all the power and control to our merciful One, Who keeps all ends of our stories in His hands.

      • Stacey Cochran

        I’m in a similar situation with my husband and his selective faith. Your hope for your husband is what I hope for mine too. I will be sending prayers up for your situation too.

        • Nads

          Ditto at my end– !! I’m worried sometimes to say it but, I want to yell “Do not forget the lessons you learned in the light when you find yourself in the darK”. Let us keep one another always in prayer. (Please pray for me for when I need the preaching I want to dish out — I put so much blame on myself and tell God I don’t deserve to be grafted in and He’d be better off without me … then I just say, please never forsake me.)

          • ~ B ~

            Irina, Stacey, Nads, my husband wasn’t always a believer. Prior to, things were very dark for us, so in these seasons, it is easy for my panic button to decompress. I know that I must find my strength in Christ here because I also know that husbands are easily attacked. They are made to glorify God in different ways and it’s so hard to understand why they may resort to a lack of faith and more of a personal “do” perspective but just keep being patient and pointing them to God, as you’re doing. When seasons calm, they’ll remember your spirit for them and your relationship will be even better for it. Hugs to you all. Prayerful that our husbands easily decipher God’s voice over any other. :)

      • truthseeker

        Many years ago in monetarily lean times my believing husband asked me how I can be calm when it looked like financial doom was upon us. He asked how could we possibly survive. My answer – FAITH. Yes, guy brains work very differently from our brains. FYI – God provided! and He continues to provide. Praise God for his multitude of blessings and abundance !

        • ~ B ~

          I love how God comes through. Even when, to us, it seems at the end of line. I am praying this over our family ten fold.

    • Shelia

      Your posts always speak to my heart. Thank you for your insight.

      • ~ B ~

        Sheila, thank you for your kindness to me. I’m glad that my rambling is decipherable.

    • JamiB

      So good to hear from you again, B! I’ve been praying for your family and wondering – I will continue as you guys navigate this new, temporary normal. So encouraging how you both look to God after all you’ve been through. Makes me hopeful for my own family situation. :)

      • ~ B ~

        JamiB, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the prayers. It brings added peace in amazing ways. If there is anyway I could ever pray for you, please let me know.

    • Tochi Heredia

      I missed your stories, B. Thank you for sharing your family’s journey with us.
      My family is going through a very hard time right now, so your testimony of hope brought joy to my heart and encouraged me in my own journey.
      Lots of love!

      • ~ B ~

        Tochi, thank you for your encouragement. I have missed “getting it all out” so to speak. :) I’m sorry that you’re in a hard season as well. If I can pray, please let me know how. Community prayer is so good, even if from a distance.

    • Veronica

      This is beautiful, the perfect completion to Romans 11 and Kaitlin’s words. Thank you for such beautiful words.

    • Tina

      Oh B. This was so so full of the Truth, Faith, Trust, Hope and Love for and in God.

      Beautiful. Absolutely beautifully written.

      Praying God be the wind beneath the sails of this season of your family life, praying His grace is abundant and filled with His loving kindness and provision, praying His ‘…grace is sufficient for you, for His power is made perfect in (our) weakness…’
      Dearest, praying grace and peace over you and yours… always.

      Love you friend…

      Hugs to the family…

      • ~ B ~

        Thank you so much, T! I often think of and pray for you! I covet the prayers in this season, so your willingness to include me in yours is humbling. I hope all is well your way. Always thinking of you!

    • Cynthia

      Thank you,B! Having lived in Cincy before I think of you often. Praying for you and your family! Keep the faith!

      • ~ B ~

        Thank you very much, my fellow Cincinnatian! We are really hoping we get to stay in Cincy this time, having fallen in love with it. The idea of leaving it, as you have, even after all our moves, pains. BUT I know God will provide wherever He calls. If there is ever anything I can pray for over you, please don’t hesitate to ask. And if you ever find yourself back in this great city, look me up. :)

    • Alisa

      I love your comment: if you have Jesus, you have all you need. That is the gospel.

  • Oh wow… may be the best SRT I’ve read yet.

    This Romans series, y’all… SO well done. Your dedication to your responsibility with God’s Word and the hearts of His people is so evident.

    These are very tough concepts… Thank you for seeking the Spirit and battling the flesh in order to keep lifting HIM up.

  • ValriAnne

    I’m sitting on the patio with a cup of coffee staring into my Mother’s garden. I was thinking about being grafted in and if you could see a picture of an actual tree of believers. My what that tree would look like and my how it’s grown. Thanking the Lord for his grace and severity this morning.

    • Kaitlin Wernet

      Oh, what a beautiful image, VariAnne! Wishing I was doing the same this morning :)

  • “The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue His interest in them, and as a result received His stamp of legitimacy.” A good reminder and one that I need daily….It is not of my own doing BUT God!

  • LivingJoyfully

    The idea of being grafted in has appealed to me since I first read these verses as an older child. Our family doesn’t have stories back generations. I don’t know how our ancestors arrived in America or how they lived. History fascinates me, so I wish we knew more about the people in our family tree. By being grafted into the Family of God I have deep roots now. The stories in the Bible talk about those who have gone before us, our family. We have a heritage of generations following Jesus that can teach us and encourage us. I have no right to my place in this (dysfunctional) family, but praise God for adopting me!

  • Karen From Virginia

    I’m grateful for being grafted in the branch. Humbled that it’s nothing I did. Sustained through the roots.
    Peace hits me. I’m not feeling well, deciding if I need rest at home or push through work. He will show me.

  • I also struggle to grasp what he’s trying to say and depend on understanding to really “get it.” Thank you for reminding me that’s where faith comes in but for also reminding me of the Rock solid truth.

  • Karen From Virginia

    Amen! Being comfortable with mystery.

  • churchmouse

    I do not have a natural understanding of higher math. If presented with a complicated math problem, I’m most likely to shrug my shoulders and admit I don’t know where to start. Some things are just beyond my ability to fully understand. So it is with part of Romans. Paul is an intellect and his mind seems to reel with all he wants his listeners to understand. But sometimes I feel like I just can’t quite grasp all he’s trying to say. I feel that way about God, too. And it used to bother me. I wanted to understand because that makes it easier to believe. But… that’s not faith. My mind had to accept that there is holy mystery with our God and that’s ok. And when I read Paul in Romans, there’s some mystery there too. I don’t understand it all but I do understand some. Israel rejected God… But a remnant did not. Some Jews believed in Jesus as Messiah.. Many did not. Israel was chosen… Gentiles were grafted in. Don’t anyone get all puffed up about being included – it’s all because of grace, not your lineage. What’s important is Who you are tethered to now. Each one of us, Jew or Gentile, has a choice to make. God is kind but there’s only one correct answer to the problem and only one Way to solve it. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus. Not faith in the Law. Not by doing good things. It doesn’t come because you were born a Jew or Gentile or Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian or Catholic or Lutheran etc etc. Salvation comes by grace through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. That’s it. There’s mystery but there’s also Rock solid. Stand on the Rock.

  • I love that phrase in Hosea: “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely.” Thankful to know the turbulence does not mean God’s hand is slack or less loving. His love is not hindered by my sin.

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