I love my friends! I’m blessed and very fortunate to say that I have many. Not just acquaintances or people I merely like, but many genuine and good friends. My friends are diverse and come from every walk of life. They’re a melting pot of humanity and experience. I love them all! (I love each of you dearly).
I learn from each of my friends and sometimes, I learn from their interactions with each other. Occasionally, those interactions strike a chord within me and compel me to reflect on what they’re saying and what it causes me to think. The outcome, is the result of how I understand their dialog and what it has caused me to reflect upon based upon my own understanding and experience.
One such occurrence happened recently between two of my friends. Let’s call them… Thelma and Louise. Thelma made an initial post on Facebook which almost made it past me (almost). It was within the context of the following dialog with Louise which challenged me to consider how I felt during the unfolding of their discussion:
Thelma: “Perhaps, God is with us all the more in the worst of times.”
Louise: “I’d have to disagree. That would make his presence dependent upon our emotional condition. That is no God at all.”
Thelma: “You’re right. But my point was that if it is in the worst of times that we feel alone and without God, HE IS THERE. It is just hard to see him… If that makes sense. It’s easy to see God in the good, harder in the bad… That’s what I’m trying to say.”
I wanted to write to both, but specifically to Thelma. While writing my reply to her, I was really challenged to understand what this question looked like in my own life experience. The result is this blog post.
As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve come to find and sense God throughout my day(s). In some ways, it seems odd for me to say that, because sometimes… I doubt! I’ve been witness to miracles and yet… I still, sometimes experience doubt. When I thought about this question in the context of my doubt, I realize that my doubt is rooted in my frailty and need, not in the lack of God’s presence in my life… He’s there, but my emotion and need crowds Him out at times. This is especially ironic since I’m the one calling out to Him in my moments of need and vulnerability.
I have felt as Thelma describes, but as I’ve grown to know God, I realize, as Thelma and Louise both say, He IS there. It’s in my times of sadness or despair however that I sometimes still feel alone. Being on my own for the past number of years, you can imagine I’ve had opportunity to experience this feeling more than once or twice. Moving away from my home of 42 years was particularly challenging because I was moving to a place where I really knew only two people. Of course, there were more than that, but local to me, there were only two. I felt very alone and isolated. Bless those two friends for their seemingly infinite patience. They’ve helped me forge some great new friendships as did the Pastor of my new Church family. I was welcomed from the moment moved to my new community and when I walked through the front doors of my new Church (Bless you YAC).
So… need! Yep, we all have them and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, knowing and understanding our needs is very healthy for us as they will guide us in our relationships and their definition.
Occasionally though, our needs can get in our way. Knowing who we are and what makes us tick, understanding the things that motivate us and define who we are is essential; but letting those needs overwhelm who we are is where we can get off track. Sometimes, we may need so much that the need in itself becomes fear… and who wants to live in fear?
So, to get back to Thelma’s question, is God more prevalent or present in the worst of times? Well, if you sense God more in the worst of times, Bless you because at least you know you’re not alone, but as Louise states, He’s always there! I think it’s a matter of us needing God more when times get tough. When things are going well, most of us (if we’re honest) will say “thank you God” and move on with our day. Sometimes, we’ll offer praise and thanks, but good times are easy to let happen, even take for granted. It’s in our times of great need or even fear, that we’re compelled to cry out! It’s in those moments that we more acutely need to feel God’s presence and so, we pray, weep, get angry or whatever we feel we need to do in the moment. Notice a thread here? Who’s doing the changing? God’s is constant and consistent, but WE change with our need. During good times, we need less or maybe, are less dependent, than we are during times of trial or desperation.
I think the healthy path here is to try to walk with God ALL of the time. It is a friendship… a relationship. When you value someone, you make time for them. You go out of your way for them, because the relationship is important to you. That can become difficult at times, because we can become focused on our lives. We tend to focus on what’s in front of us. It takes effort to maintain a relationship. If it’s a healthy relationship, that effort may appear “effortless”, but make no mistake, you’re still making a choice. The same holds true in our relationship with God. We need to make time to acknowledge and spend time with God! That effort may be through prayer, reading scripture or going for a walk and simply talking to God.
I try to include God in my day, wherever I am or go. I have grown to a point in my faith that God simply IS! He’s a part of me and I walk with Him through all things, good and bad. That doesn’t make it easy or easier, I just permit myself to allow God and His wisdom into my life, no matter where I am. While that hasn’t always been the case, I’m grateful to say that I think my relationship with God is for the most part, fairly balanced. What I mean to say is that I believe I have a reasonably healthy relationship with God. Sometimes, I have to remember to let him have a part in my walk, but that doesn’t happen as often now. With that said however, I find that I will cry out more when my need or dependence is greater, though I think that’s true in most any relationship. It’s OK to ask for help and in fact, it’s healthy as long as you also appreciate that when we ask for help, we must do our part too and accept that help. Sometimes, the help may not be what “we” want to hear or see, but if we’re going to learn or grow in the situation from the help we receive, we need to put our ego down and reflect!
Where is God when we need him? I can’t answer that for you, but I can tell you that in my experience, He’s always been with me. On one occasion, I even demanded he show up! I was feeling very alone and vulnerable! I very much needed to feel his presence in my life! I was on my knees sobbing and utterly vulnerable. My understanding of His presence in my life wasn’t enough… I really needed to “feel” God’s presence and in that moment He came through for me! It was personal, but I was touched and assured of His love, compassion and presence. I’m truly grateful for God’s love in that moment, but I had to do my part too. I had to ask! I had to be willing to be vulnerable and ask!
Your relationship with God is between you and God. Some might say that it seems one sided. I’ve even felt that way in the past, but I realized I was being selfish. I realized that God is with me everywhere I go, all of the time! I realized that because faith is a part of my relationship with God and that since He’s always there long before I need him, I have to do my part to ask for help, look for or listen to Him.
Is God more prevalent during our darkest hours, our times of trial or deeper need? No, It’s just happens that in those times, we’re more dependent and in need of consolation or reassurance. If you feel I’m wrong, then ask yourself this… when you’re in a troubling situation, do you phone a friend, reach out to your Mom or Dad or someone you trust, simply because you don’t want to be alone? We’re wired for relationship and need more when times get tough and that’s OK, because the alternative… well… that’s another post!