Χαρμολύπη is a compound Greek word that I love because it concisely expresses a deep paradox of human existence. It can be translated “joyful sorrow” or “bitter joy” or “affliction that leads to joy.” I like it in the same sense that I have always liked the Hebrew name Mara (you may know it in the form: Miriam). It means bitter, but also strong. It was the name Naomi claimed for herself in the book of Ruth when she returned broken to Israel after having lost everything. Yet, if you have read the story, you know God had a plan all along and she played a crucial role. It is also the name of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who sang the joyful Magnificat at the coming of the Savior and at the same time quietly accepted into her heart the full revelation of what His life would be like, and how it had to end to fulfill the promise of that song.

Peter’s reply to Jesus at the end of the 6th chapter of John’s gospel, “Where else would I go…” echoes with charmolype. It is the natural reaction at facing the rigor that the Truth of God’s Word requires of us. It is the natural reaction at realizing the price Love must pay to be real Love.

The author of defines it this way: [It] characterizes the spiritual life. A mixed feeling of happiness while being sad; regret and repentance of past wrongs that simultaneously fill us with hope and the light of forgiveness.

For, as much as we all long to say, “it will be alright, everything will turn out for the good (Romans 8:28)”, the reality is that we know it cannot be so in this world. It is impossible… because this world is not good. It was, briefly, at the beginning. But it is not so any longer. Yet, we all long for joy.

Yes, we all long for Joy. How could it be otherwise? As the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “God put Eternity in the hearts of humanity, yet we know full well how finite we are.”

That is why I love that song by Amy Grant, written by Rich Mullins, called Doubly good to you ( that I think perfectly captures the only reaction that makes sense to me: Gratitude. God the Father did not have to send His Son into this world to bring us back to Him. But He did because He loved us.

Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who against us?

Yes, this is a triumphal cry, but we must read on to understand what God defines as victory.

Romans 8:32-34a He who, yea, has not spared his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him grant us all things? Who shall bring an accusation against God’s elect? [It is] God who justifies: who is he that condemns?

Indeed, how can we not receive the victory, given the price the Father was willing to pay for us? He gave His own Son! And then Paul reminds us why this victory is so overwhelmingly certain: God, the Maker of the universe, is the One who justifies. Compare that to the one that condemns… Who is it the one that condemns? We are! We humans condemn ourselves. Remember Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus:

John 3:17-18 For God has not sent his Son into the world that he may judge the world, but that the world may be saved through him. He that believes on him is not judged: but he that believes not has been already judged, because he has not believed on the name of the only-begotten Son of God.

We condemn ourselves… every person ever born and ever to be born ends up choosing this path of death. How could such a mind-staggering number of souls ever be rescued? Paul gives the answer:

Romans 8:34b [It is] Christ who has died, but rather has been [also] raised up; who is also at the right hand of God; who also intercedes for us.

Not only did He pay the price by dying, He intercedes, every day, right now, this very moment, for us before the Father. The Way is the Infinite Son of God. That is how that mind-staggering number of souls can be saved, and say “NO” to unbelief.

What is the result?

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

Note the point of the rhetorical question: Can anything separate us from His LOVE? No; precisely because of Who He is.

But also note that the rhetorical question is not asking, who shall separate us from tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword (in this world)? And that is all-important here. This is why Paul immediately reiterates it:

Romans 8:36 According as it is written, For thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we have been reckoned as sheep for slaughter.

All those things are coming, like the storms Jesus said would certainly hit the house we build (in the Sermon on the Mount). The point is, that those forces of destruction only have within them, behind them, the power of this world. And that power cannot destroy a life that has been planted and rooted in the Kingdom of God; because that life is eternal life.

Romans 8:37-39 But in all these things we more than conquer through him that has loved us. For I am persuaded 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 creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which [is] in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Share this on:


Sign up to receive new stories in your email as they’re published.

Your privacy is important. We won’t send spam or share your email address. Privacy Policy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *