Think back to when you were a young kid. Did you ever have any nightmares? Do you remember how it felt to wake up in the middle of the night, filled with fear? Eyes shocked wide open, heart pounding, forehead damp. What did you do? If you were very young, you likely did one of two things: you either called for help from the safety of your bed, or you bolted down the hallway and jumped into your parents’ bed.
Why did you seek the comfort of an adult during a time of distress? Why isn’t it enough, when my own kids are afraid, for me to simply turn on a light and tell them it was just a bad dream? Why do they need me to stay in the room with them until they fall back asleep?
The answer, of course, is that there is something special about presence. The presence of another individual, especially a trusted adult, parent, or friend, brings comfort and peace and calm to an otherwise anxious and terrified heart.
Growing up, I memorized verses like Joshua 1:9, that said, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” I’m embarrassed now to admit that the last phrase of that verse always struck me as a bit of an add-on. Be strong and courageous? Okay. Do not be afraid or discouraged? Alright. Yep, if God commands me to do something, then I better do it. God will be with me wherever I go? Hm, alright. That’s probably a good thing, so thanks, I guess?
I think after the encouragement to be strong and courageous, to not be afraid or discouraged, I was expecting something more along the lines of, “for the Lord your God will fight your battles for you,” or, “for the Lord your God will take care of you,” or maybe, “for the Lord your God will make sure it all goes okay for you.” I wanted an assurance in that verse that felt a little more concrete than “just” God’s presence.
But thank God, He opened my eyes to see now what I couldn’t see then. What I didn’t understand back then was the immense value of God’s presence, the blessings that come with His presence, the comfort and peace and calm He brings to an otherwise anxious and terrified heart. I didn’t understand just what a foundational, concrete truth it is that God’s presence is exactly what I need at all times.
In God’s presence, there is His power. He is all-powerful, and no situation can overwhelm or surprise Him. When the world around you appears to be crumbling and decisions are being made that seem unwise, rest, knowing that God has known what would happen from before time began, and that He has the power to change the hearts and minds of any person, no matter how much worldly status and power they seem to hold.
In God’s presence, there is His goodness. He is all-good, without a single hint of darkness, so we can certainly trust that His powerful actions will be good. When you have unexpectedly lost a family member or friend, rest, knowing that even when you don’t understand the reasons why, God does, and He can work through all things to bring about good.
In God’s presence, there is His peace. He leads us to increased faith and trust, knowing that He is in control. When your child has a medical emergency, and you don’t know if he’s going to make it, rest, knowing that God controls the movement of every single molecule everywhere.
In God’s presence, there is His justice. He is the Perfect Judge, and He will not let those who do evil go unpunished. When you have been terribly wronged by someone, and it appears they have gotten away with it, rest, knowing that God will bring perfect justice in His perfect timing.
No matter what situation you find yourself in, rest, knowing that if you are in Christ, then God has promised to never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). Just as the presence of a loving mom or dad calms a fear-filled child, so also the presence of our loving Father in Heaven calms our hearts. Let us bring our worries and fears, our sorrows and pain, to the Father who knows us and loves us. He is with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
Psalm 46. Make a list of what that psalm tells you about God, and respond in prayer.