Day 206

A Pillow on Which to Rest Our Weary Heads

Wisdom Psalm 89:1-8
New Testament Romans 8:18-39
Old Testament Hosea 10:1-11:11


I sometimes struggle to believe that God really loves me. I can be tempted to feel a sense of failure and self-condemnation. It is relatively easy to believe that God loves everybody else, but it is much harder to believe that God loves me.

The love of God, Paul explains in Romans 8, starts with ‘no condemnation’ (v.1) and ends with no separation: nothing ‘will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (v.39). John Stott describes the truth of this passage as ‘a pillow on which to rest our weary heads’.

‘God loves each one of us as if there was only one of us to love,’ wrote St Augustine. If you were the only person who had ever lived, Jesus would have died for you. And if it is true of you, it is also true of me. God loves me and you.


Psalm 89:1-8

A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

1 I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
   with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
   through all generations.
2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
   that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
   I have sworn to David my servant,
4 ‘I will establish your line forever
   and make your throne firm through all generations.’”

5 The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
   your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
6 For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
   Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
7 In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
   he is more awesome than all who surround him.
8 Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
   You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.


Tell of the great love of the Lord

The focus of both our worship and our witness is the love of God.

1. Worship

This psalm begins with worship, a hymn of praise (vv.1–18), focusing on God’s love: ‘I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever’ (v.1).

Think about God’s greatness and glory – how amazing it is to be loved by the ‘Lord God Almighty’ (v.8). This is something that can never be taken away from you. The psalmist writes, ‘Your love stands firm forever’ (v.2).

2. Witness

The message you pass onto others should always centre on God’s love: ‘I’ll never quit telling the story of your love’ (v.2, MSG).


Lord, thank you that I have experienced your love and faithfulness. Help me, Lord, to continue to make your love known to others.

New Testament

Romans 8:18-39

Present Suffering and Future Glory

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

More Than Conquerors

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

  “For your sake we face death all day long;
   we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Meditate on the amazing love of Christ

Do your circumstances ever cause you to question God’s love for you?

Paul suffered greatly – through beatings, imprisonment and many other hardships. But he says that these sufferings cannot come close to comparing to the glory we will see one day. There is no comparison ‘between the present hard times and the coming good times’ (v.18, MSG).

While you are waiting, you have the ‘first fruits of the Spirit’ (v.23). The Holy Spirit is a down payment guaranteeing what is to come – the future glory. One day the whole of creation will be liberated (v.21). Here and now, your body may be ‘groaning’ (v.22) as it gradually deteriorates, but one day it will be totally healed and restored. Your resurrection will not be only ‘spiritual’, it will be physical. ‘We wait eagerly for… the redemption of our bodies’ (v.23).

Paul uses the analogy of a pregnancy. You are feeling ‘the pains of labour’ (v.22, AMP).

‘Meanwhile, the moment you get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping you along. If you don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. The Holy Spirit does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans’ (v.26, MSG). He enables you to pray in accordance with God’s will (v.27). If your prayers are led by the Spirit, they will definitely be answered – because they will be in accordance with God’s will.

Life is not the random mess it may sometimes appear. ‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (v.28).

In every detail of your life, God is at work. ‘All things’ includes even our mistakes. God will take even your errors and work them out for your good. He reigns. He is sovereign. In everything he works for the good of those who love him. Supremely, the cross demonstrates that just as God took the very worst event in history and turned it into the very best; he can take the worst things in your life and use them for good.

This promise applies to all Christians. He elaborates in verses 29–30 – you are foreknown, predestined, called, justified, glorified. The first four events have happened, but glorification is a future event. However, Paul uses the same past tense for all of them. ‘You areglorified.’ This use of the aorist (completed) tense shows Paul’s certainty about the future – it has already been secured.

This is astonishing. It is possibly the most daring statement of faith in the whole of the New Testament. It speaks of total security. The security of a Christian is solidly grounded on the unwavering love of God. This sure foundation is deeper than all your circumstances and feelings.

How can you be sure of God’s love? Paul poses five unanswerable questions.

1. With God on your side like this, how can you lose?

‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (v.31b). If God is for you, what others think is not so important. You are set free from the fear of people and from caring too much about what others think.

2. If God gave his only Son for you, is he likely to withhold anything else?

‘He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?’ (v.32).

3. Who is going to dare to prosecute you?

‘Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?’ (v.33a).

4. If God is the judge and Jesus your defence counsel, how can a prosecution succeed?

‘It is God who justifies. Who then can condemn?’ (vv.33b–34). Jesus is your defence lawyer. He is supremely qualified. ‘Christ Jesus, who died’ (v.34) has already served the sentence for us. He ‘was raised to life’ by God (v.34). He is in the supreme place of honour ‘at the right hand of God’ (v.34). He is praying for you (v.34). He is sticking up for you. Jesus never stops praying for you.

5. How can anyone drive a wedge between you and Christ’s love?

You can be separated from friends and family by circumstances or even death. But, ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?’ (v.35a). This does not mean that life is easy. There may be trouble, hard times, hatred, hunger, homelessness, bullying threats and backstabbing. But ‘not even the worst sins listed in Scripture... None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us’ (vv.35b–37, MSG). In the midst of every difficulty, you can cling to God’s love for you.

Paul lists seventeen possibilities involving calamities of life, superhuman agencies, time and space (vv.35–39). His list includes absolutely every possible difficulty and challenge you may face. And he concludes that he is totally convinced that nothing ‘will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (v.39). As Isaac Watts wrote, ‘Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.’


Lord, how can I ever thank you enough for your amazing love? Thank you that in all things you are working together for the good in my life, and absolutely nothing can separate me from your love.

Old Testament

Hosea 10:1-11:11

10 Israel was a spreading vine;
   he brought forth fruit for himself.
  As his fruit increased,
   he built more altars;
  as his land prospered,
   he adorned his sacred stones.
2 Their heart is deceitful,
   and now they must bear their guilt.
  The Lord will demolish their altars
   and destroy their sacred stones.

3 Then they will say, “We have no king
   because we did not revere the Lord.
  But even if we had a king,
   what could he do for us?”
4 They make many promises,
   take false oaths
   and make agreements;
  therefore lawsuits spring up
   like poisonous weeds in a plowed field.
5 The people who live in Samaria fear
   for the calf-idol of Beth Aven.
  Its people will mourn over it,
   and so will its idolatrous priests,
  those who had rejoiced over its splendor,
   because it is taken from them into exile.
6 It will be carried to Assyria
   as tribute for the great king.
  Ephraim will be disgraced;
   Israel will be ashamed of its foreign alliances.
7 Samaria’s king will be destroyed,
   swept away like a twig on the surface of the waters.
8 The high places of wickedness will be destroyed—
   it is the sin of Israel.
  Thorns and thistles will grow up
   and cover their altars.
  Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!”
   and to the hills, “Fall on us!”

9 “Since the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, Israel,
   and there you have remained.
  Will not war again overtake
   the evildoers in Gibeah?
10 When I please, I will punish them;
   nations will be gathered against them
   to put them in bonds for their double sin.
11 Ephraim is a trained heifer
   that loves to thresh;
  so I will put a yoke
   on her fair neck.
  I will drive Ephraim,
   Judah must plow,
   and Jacob must break up the ground.
12 Sow righteousness for yourselves,
   reap the fruit of unfailing love,
  and break up your unplowed ground;
   for it is time to seek the Lord,
  until he comes
   and showers his righteousness on you.
13 But you have planted wickedness,
   you have reaped evil,
   you have eaten the fruit of deception.
  Because you have depended on your own strength
   and on your many warriors,
  14 the roar of battle will rise against your people,
   so that all your fortresses will be devastated —
  as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle,
   when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children.
15 So will it happen to you, Bethel,
   because your wickedness is great.
  When that day dawns,
   the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.

God’s Love for Israel

11 “When Israel was a child, I loved him,
   and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more they were called,
   the more they went away from me.
  They sacrificed to the Baals
   and they burned incense to images.
3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
   taking them by the arms;
  but they did not realize
   it was I who healed them.
4 I led them with cords of human kindness,
   with ties of love.
  To them I was like one who lifts
   a little child to the cheek,
   and I bent down to feed them.

5 “Will they not return to Egypt
   and will not Assyria rule over them
   because they refuse to repent?
6 A sword will flash in their cities;
   it will devour their false prophets
   and put an end to their plans.
7 My people are determined to turn from me.
   Even though they call me God Most High,
   I will by no means exalt them.

8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim?
   How can I hand you over, Israel?
  How can I treat you like Admah?
   How can I make you like Zeboyim?
  My heart is changed within me;
   all my compassion is aroused.
9 I will not carry out my fierce anger,
   nor will I devastate Ephraim again.
  For I am God, and not a man —
   the Holy One among you.
   I will not come against their cities.
10 They will follow the Lord;
   he will roar like a lion.
  When he roars,
   his children will come trembling from the west.
11 They will come from Egypt,
   trembling like sparrows,
   from Assyria, fluttering like doves.
  I will settle them in their homes,”
   declares the Lord.


Enjoy the unfailing love of God

Do you realise that God loves you more than any parent loves their own children?

Hosea continues to speak of God’s love for his people in spite of their unfaithfulness. They have allowed sins, conflict and idolatry to grow up like ‘poisonous weeds’ (10:4) and ‘thorns and thistles’ (v.8). Be careful that these things do not grow up in your life. Keep weeding out the bad stuff – even the little weeds before they become big ones.

As well as weeding out the bad stuff, plant beautiful flowers. God calls them (and us) to ‘sow for yourselves righteousness’ and ‘reap the fruit of unfailing love… for it is time to seek the Lord’ (v.12).

He describes it here in terms of parental love: ‘When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son… It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms… it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I… bent down to feed them’ (11:1–4).

This is a wonderful picture of God’s love and tenderness: like a parent looking after a toddler. ‘I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek’ (v.4, MSG) – feeding them, teaching them to walk, taking them up in their arms.

Even though they refuse to repent and were determined to turn from him, he cannot give them up (vv.5–8). ‘My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused’ (v.8b). This is the love that will not let you go.


Thank you, Father, for your love, compassion, tenderness and mercy. Thank you that nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Thank you that your love is a pillow on which to rest our weary heads.

Pippa adds

In Romans 8:28 it says:

‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’

I have hung onto this verse so many times when things haven’t been working out or a big disappointment has happened. Looking back over the years at many of the things that didn’t go the way I had hoped, I can now say that it was a great blessing that they didn’t. I could never have said that at the time. But there are still some things that I don’t understand. And I'll might have to wait until I get to heaven and I hope that I will then.



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John Stott, The Message of Romans (IVP, 1994) p.246.

Isaac Watts, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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