Many people today are asking themselves, “Where is God?” It’s a legitimate question during a global pandemic—even pastors are likely asking it this year. In fact, some researchers are suggesting that 20 percent of U.S. churches may never reopen.
If you’re asking, “Where is God?” right now, the Bible has an answer.
He’s right beside you—no matter where you are. God is all over the place. He is omnipresent.
Jeremiah 23:23-24 says, “I am a God who is everywhere and not in one place . . . Do you not know that I am everywhere in heaven and on earth?” (GNT). That means, no matter what you’re going through, God is with you. When you look at the struggles we’re dealing with right now, God’s presence changes everything.
Here’s how he does it:
When you’re lonely, God is your companion.
“Turn to me and have mercy on me, because I am lonely and hurting” (Psalm 25:16 NCV). Our world has never had more people, and we’ve never been more connected to each other. Yet we’ve also never been lonelier.
You will be lonely from time to time. In fact, as a pastor, you’ll often feel loneliness in a unique way. Many in ministry report they have few real relationships in which they can be authentic.
God doesn’t want you to feel alone. So what do you do when you experience those moments of uncontrollable loneliness and can’t do anything about it? You welcome and embrace God’s presence. He is your companion. Hebrews 13:5 says of God, “I will never leave you or abandon you” (CSB). He’s a friend who knows more about you than any other friend. He even knows more about you than you do.
When you’re worried, God is your confidence.
God says this: “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2 TLB). Those verses remind me of the three Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who walked through the fire in Daniel 3. God walked through it with them. When they came out, the ropes were burned off.
For many of you, walking through 2020 has felt like walking through a fire. You weren’t sure if your church would make it through the year. You weren’t sure you’d make it through, either. None of us can predict what we’ll face in the last few months of 2020. But we can be certain of this: God will give us the confidence to make it through.
When you’re tempted, God is your counsellor.
First Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (NIV). When God is with you, he provides a way out of any temptation you experience.
God knows exactly where you’re struggling. He’s pulling for you. He’s also preparing an escape route. God sees your temptation coming before you do. Willpower isn’t enough to keep you from giving in. You need God’s presence to fight temptation.
When you’re discouraged, God is your comforter.
If you’re discouraged, one thing I can tell you with all confidence is this: God will comfort you. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope” (GNT).
God feels your hurt. He feels your discouragement. He knows when you’re struggling and frustrated. This year didn’t surprise him. Your church’s response to the pandemic didn’t surprise him either.
No matter what you’re going through, God is walking through it with you. He isn’t some impersonal force. He’s personal, and he’s never too busy to listen. You’ll never hear him say, “Come back later.” He is sympathetic to the stress you are feeling.
God’s presence will change everything about the pain you’re experiencing, but you must tune in to it.
The key is in Psalm 116:9: “I walk in the presence of the Lord” (GNT). Even if God seems millions of miles away, he is present with you.
Are you walking in his presence?
Article by Rick Warren