When everything fades to black… A failed marriage. Another miscarriage. Hurricane devastation. Medical diagnosis. It’s everywhere. Maybe it’s a single moment where the bottom drops out, or maybe it’s a slow fade, but none of us are exempt from these deep dark valleys. I can write all day about the goodness of God or his sovereignty, but I also know there are points in our lives when all the knowledge, reasoning or teaching just doesn’t suffice. When we just need to be held.
Often, I see God use people – family and friends to physically gather and embrace us, to sit with us, to be near.
And then there are times when they can’t. The middle of the night restlessness. The sudden onset of emotions. The interruptive thoughts.
There are limits in humanity. There are no limitations to the presence of God.
Yet physical presence can feel more real. So the nature and comfort of an omnipresent God can seem less tangible. And ultimately, less comforting.
But it is far more powerful.
We live in a world with confusion and hurt and a very real enemy. And very real sin. Our sin – which caused a fracture – a severing from The Holy One, YHWH. Our sin cut us off from what we need most: the presence of God.
And it’s exactly what was restored on our behalf when Jesus took our place at Calvary. The curtain that separated the people from The Almighty tore. Top to bottom. Him to us. Jesus justified us before the Lord, that we might again experience his presence. Forever.
On the cross, He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” His words quote Psalm 22, which goes on to say, “Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1). The Psalm describes the crucifixion, the exchange. Jesus in our place. He was forsaken, so we can be brought near.
Three days later his resurrection proved his power – greater than death, greater than sin. No longer is it us who live but Christ in us, us in him. United. He is Immanuel, and He is with us. Often, I think, much closer than we consider.
He says he is so near to the hungry, that it’s as if we’re feeding God directly when we give to the poor. He’s so near to the prisoner, that it’s as if we’re visiting God directly when we spend time with an inmate. He’s so near to the brokenhearted that it’s as if his own heart was broken. And he’s so near to the joyous, it’s as if it were his own joy to begin with.
This is the measure of his love towards us.
Whether our lives mark a dark season, a joyous one, or even a mix of both – he is with us. His Spirit is within us. He grieves with us, and he celebrates with us. He promises to work all things for the good of those who love him, and he is sovereign and powerful enough to honor his promise.
I fully resonate with anyone who doesn’t automatically “feel” comfort in thinking to themselves, but God is with me. I get it. I don’t either. But I do believe the comfort and emotion can catch up to us when we continue to believe the things that God has said, when we continue drawing near to him.
And more, I believe that God means what he says. We are not ever alone. God has us. Always. Including, and especially, when we stand in shock of unexpected news or our head falls into our hands as we wonder, how did I get here? He is with us when we have nothing to offer and need everything he has to give. There is no limit to his presence and no limit to his power. No limit to his love and no limit to the depths that he would go to in order to reach us. He walks through the deep dark valleys with us, and he will walk us out, forever our light. Forever our life. Forever with us.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there… Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. – Psalm 139:7-12
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me – Psalm 23:4
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. – Matthew 27:50-51
Read: Joshua 1:5, 9
2 Chronicles 32:8
Take your time with these verses! Go through them slowly, repetitively, verbally. And keep your own list or add to this as you read through your Bible and observe God’s faithful presence among his people.
Our relationship with God is a journey. Keep reminding yourself of his presence. His character. His Word. Read it! Pray it. Memorize it. Treasure it like the greatest prize, because your relationship with God is the only thing that will matter 100 years from now.
Jump in – think of a time in your life when you felt like God was absent. Talk to him about it. Ask him to show you his presence during that time.