Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you, the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:7-12). Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:24).
“Where is God!?” I remember him crying. He was a young man I’d been working with for a while. His childhood, however, was really troubled. Dad left, mom wasn’t great, and pain was his familiar companion far too early in life. Through his tears, he asked me the question that so many do when faced with suffering. Where is God?
“He’s right here,” I said.
To you, that answer may sound trite. But I wasn’t trying to be pithy, I was trying to speak truth. God is everywhere. There is never a moment, a location, or a space in life where God is not already present waiting for us. No one can hide from him, and no one can evade him. Jonah tried, if you remember. In the story, God called Jonah to preach a message of repentance and grace to Jonah’s sworn enemies. Filled with hatred, Jonah attempted to flee God, but failed. I remember once reading that very story to my daughter when she was younger. Her response was, “Daddy, that’s silly. You can’t run from God. He’s everywhere!” Even the 4-year-old knows that.
But why does this matter? Further, why is it good news that God is this way? Well, let’s return to our suffering young man. The news of God’s everywhere-ness (or, omnipresence), is good news precisely because even in our moments of deepest pain and brokenness, God is there. While God is holy and totally unsullied by sin, he is certainly present and aware of it. And, the God who sees our situation is certainly able to identify with it. This is, after all, part of the good news of the Gospel. Jesus came to be with us—present with us. In one sense, he already was, because God is everywhere. But in another important sense, he came to be with us physically be with us. Why? To identify with us personally, and to show us how much we matter to him.
When you’re going through pain, you can see who really cares about you. There are those who send their sympathies from afar, and then there are those who come to be with you physically and feel your pain. Jesus is in the latter category. Because God is everywhere, we never walk out of his vision. But because God is inexpressibly loving, he decided to walk into ours.
God’s omnipresence means that we can trust him, because as a just and good God, he sees all things, understanding what’s going on. For the victim of injustice who may never know real justice in this life—God is there. He knows. For the suffering, small, and hurt people who may never find a voice on this side of the veil—God is there. “He is not far from each one of us, for in him we live, and move, and have our being,” (Acts 17:27-28).
God I thank you that you've never been far from me. From highest joys to deepest pains, you'll never be from me. Thank you that you are everywhere present, filling each moment.
Today, cause me to walk with a greater awareness of your presence. You are "not far from each one of us." Thank you that "in you [I] live, and move, and have my being." Today, God, help me to keep that reality at the forefront of my thinking. Keep me from fooling myself that I'm independent and alone. In you, I am never alone.
I love you God. And today I celebrate that I am never far from you!
For Jesus' glory, Amen.