One of the first ways we can be assured of Gods continued presence in our lives, even when everything seems in chaos, is that God himself has promised it. Look at the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples before he ascended into heaven: he said, “..and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This is straight forward assurance of God not ever letting us alone. In Psalms 139, David plainly states that not only does God know us completely and never leave us, but that the converse is true as well; we can never be away from God. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold You are there” (Psalms 139: 7, 8 NKJV). Again in Psalms 55, David says, “As for me, I will call upon God and the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice” (Psalms 55: 16, 17 NKJV). These scriptures are but a fraction of God’s explicit words telling of His presence always, no matter what is going on in our life. All the biblical narratives are full of the same message, implicitly. God cares for his people, so when you feel like you’re all alone, seek the promises of His Word first and take comfort in the fact that He is there.
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Another way of knowing God is always there is to recall personal experiences where you have felt the same way in the past, and yet in hindsight you are able to clearly see God was with you all along. Sometimes circumstances of life can bring us to the point of feeling overwhelmed so that we miss the voice of God due to our own anxieties. I can certainly point to a period in my life where it seemed as if God had gone on vacation and everything was crumbling around me. I remember beginning this time in my life by crying out, yet I still felt crushed as I began to focus on my circumstances and not on my Saviour. In short order I came to the conclusion that God had left me alone and I began to drown in my own self-pity, circumstances of life and erroneous thinking. This went for about six years. During that time, God seemed very distant indeed, and I struggled with whether I’d every really known Him at all. As I look back upon that time however, I’m able to see moments where God was definitely present, and active in my life. My focus was just in the wrong place and I missed it at the time. Particularly, I remember God bringing to mind certain chapters of scripture I’d memorized as a child. These scriptures would replay in my mind at the strangest times, and even though I didn’t see it in the moment, God used His Word to begin drawing my focus back to him. I had peace for short spells amidst the storm of life, but I only know that for certain now as I look back. I believe God allows us to use our past experiences of life to draw on and affirm His presence. Much in the same way as He constantly commanded the young Israelite nation to remember Him and what He had done for them, we are to remember what He’s done for us in our life, in order to draw strength, comfort and assurance of not being alone in future storms of life.
Other people can also, through their testimonies, provide us comfort and assurance that God is always there. A clear example of this can be seen in some of the men I counsel at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. Many of the guys who come in and enter the year-long Men’s Ministry Program come from lives of unimaginable hardship and brokenness. It is not uncommon at all for a man to be sitting in my office and with tears in his eyes say that as he looks back across his life, he can come to no other conclusion for his still being alive, other than God has watched over him the whole way! I hear the testimony of one man who was shot by his own mother and sold to her drug dealers as a prostitute at the age of eight, who then had an entire childhood of unspeakable pain, come to the conclusion that despite all he’s been through and every terrible thing he’s also done in his life, that God was with him and spared his life. He then can begin naming specific instances from his chaotic life, where he now sees clearly that God intervened and spared him. This man’s story is not uncommon. The point here is that through his testimony, others will be able to know that no matter how rough things may be, or how far their own focus is distracted away from God, He is always there. Such testimonies are powerful reminders to God’s presence, as David says “even if I make my bed in hell, you are there.”
The next time you come to a place in your life where you feel like God isn’t there, that He doesn’t care or isn’t listening, please remember to seek out His promises in His word. As you do read His Word, think back to other times in your own life where things were turbulent and look for the evidence of His presence in those situations, and listen to the testimonies of others who can point to the faithful presence and activity of God in their lives during hard times. God is with you always, you can bet on it.