Closer Than You Think

GodIsCloserThanYouThink_480x340You’ve been there, or you know someone who has.  The sweet nectar of success has been replaced by a bitter taste and bad breath because the corporate carpet has been pulled out from under you.  Your coworkers no longer think of you as a friend, and they’re nervous when they see you.  They’re afraid your bad luck might be contagious.

No one seems to care, the phone calls have stopped, and you feel like you’re alone at the bottom of a dark pit of discouragement.  You hear a voice, but you’re not sure of the words.  Did it ask, “How is the view from down there?” Or, were the words, “It really isn’t too bad a view from down here.”

There’s a world of difference between “down there” and “down here,” and a wave of calm and comfort flows through you as you realize you’re not alone.  You never have been and you never will be.

In Acts 17, Paul said: “God gives everyone life, breath, and everything they have.  From one man he has made every nation of humanity to live all over the earth. He has given them the seasons of the year and the boundaries within which to live.  He has done this so that they would look for God, somehow reach for him, and find him. In fact, he is never far from any one of us.  Certainly, we live, move, and exist because of him.”

The bright lights might get a bit dim; your hope might get a little bruised; and, in the moment the powerful promises could lose their glamor; but, God is not absent.

As a man who was well acquainted with times of sorrow and joy, David contemplated God’s presence:

“Can I go anywhere apart from Your Spirit? Is there anywhere I can go to escape Your watchful presence? If I go up into heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in the realm of the dead, You are there. If I ride on the wings of morning, if I make my home in the most isolated part of the ocean, even then You will be there to guide me; Your right hand will embrace me, for You are always there. Even if I am afraid and think to myself, “There is no doubt that the darkness will swallow me, the light around me will soon be turned to night,” You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes. For You the night is just as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes.” ~Psalm 139

You’re not alone; Jesus promised to never leave you or forsake you.

The Winds of Adversity

depressed-manSomething occurred to me the other day while at the lake—I was all alone. There was no other boat to be seen—I had the lake to myself. It’s a rare moment to be the only boater on the lake, but when the wind is howling and the lake is churning foam and white capped waves most people have enough sense to stay on land.

My experience on the lake reminds me of how I’ve felt when I struggled through some trial—all alone. I didn’t understand what was happening or why it was happening and I wondered: “God where are you?”

This brings to mind two godly men—Joseph and Paul. Both of these men probably had moments when they wondered about their circumstances. Joseph languished in prison because Pharaoh’s cupbearer forgot him and the promise he had made (Genesis 40:14, 23; 41:1). Paul spent two years in prison because he had rankled Felix.

Both Pharaoh and Felix thought they were having their way with these bothersome individuals, but they weren’t. They were being used an instruments in the plan of God: “No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord (Proverbs 21:30).

God uses moments like these to develop you, to build your character, and to mold you into His image and likeness.

When I was about 8 years old, a 10 year old boy had me pinned to the ground as he punched me. I felt a sense of relief when my dad appeared out of nowhere. I said: “Dad, get him off of me.” Dad surprised me when he said: “Son, if you’re going to fight, you’d better learn how to win.” Those were not the words I expected to hear, and I was even more surprised when the toes of his work boots turned into heels as he turned around and walked away.

Like bragging Peter, I think God will let us struggle at times for the purpose of strengthening us. In hindsight, I now know that is what Dad was doing for me. I also know that the times I have felt all alone, God was still at my side, by my side, and on my side; and, I’ve learned that “I can all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).”