It is within our nature as humans to align our perception of God’s presence with our current circumstances. In simplest terms, when things work in our favor, we feel God’s presence and blessing. When things become difficult, we assume He is distant and perhaps indifferent to our struggles.
As a single mother, I defined myself as profoundly alone. I woke up alone. Went to bed alone. Cared for my children alone. Wrapped Christmas presents alone. Cried alone. This loneliness skewed my perception of God’s presence because I unknowingly blamed Him for my feelings of isolation and abandonment. And my unanswered prayers for the companionship of a husband only intensified my perception of God’s distance and indifference. I now understand that God, in His infinite mercy, allowed me to wait for a husband so that He might become my Unseen Companion—my first love. But itwould take God eight long years to convince me of His presence. I was not easily swayed.
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Instead of calling on God and asking for His presence, I typically called Him out, accusing Him of distance. Perhaps this is why, out of all the writers of the Bible, I identified most closely with David of the Psalms. When dealing with danger, betrayal, pain, and the consequences of our sin, we both felt compelled to pick up our pen and question God’s presence.
Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
DAVID, PSALM 10:1
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
DAVID, PSALM 13:1
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
DAVID, PSALM 22:1
“Lord, where ARE you in this?”
ME, IN NUMEROUS JOURNAL ENTRIES AND PRAYERS
Like most people, David and I did not base our accusations on truth but rather on our ever-changing perception of God’s presence, fueled by intense emotion and limited understanding. Thankfully, David, far wiser than I, set a powerful example, which transformed the way I communicated with God. While writing his Psalms of Lament, David usually followed a pattern: a direct address to God, a complaint, a plea for help, a statement of trust, and overflowing praise.
David’s ability to pour out his unabashed grievances before God modeled a level of comfort typically reserved for the closest of relationships. I learned that I didn’t have to pull myself together before going to God. He could handle my authentic and unedited emotion. David’s ability to then curb his feelings by returning to trust and praise demonstrated a deep respect for God as Sovereign King. This taught me that acknowledging God’s character, authority, and strength brought me to a place of peace and security. David’s companionship with God encompassed both the comfort found in familiarity and the humility found in respect.
David, who felt secure enough to question God’s nearness, penned some of the most eloquent and impactful scriptures in all of the Bible—words that convey a Holy Presence, far beyond our human reasoning.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
As we grow in our companionship with God, it is imperative to understand our limited perception of His presence rarely aligns with the fullness of His Truth. God remains GOD, no matter our circumstances. He is the Creator of heaven and earth. The Beginning and the End. Father to the fatherless. Holy. Mighty. Sovereign. Perfect and Transcendent in all of His ways. He is Omnipresent (in all places, at all times), Omniscient (in full knowledge of everything), and Omnipotent (all-powerful). And though Unseen, He remains eternally Present.
Excerpt adapted from The Unseen Companion-God with the Single Mother, ©2017 by Michelle Lynn Senters. Used with permission of Moody Publishers.
Michelle Lynn Senters has a message for single moms— one forged in her own journey and deepened through her years of ministry to single mothers. “You are not alone.” She is the Founder and Director of SEEN, a ministry designed to demonstrate the love of Christ to single mothers and equip churches to meet their spiritual needs. Michelle is a sought-after speaker at women’s events, Bible studies, and writer’s conferences. She is the author of The Unseen Companion- God with the Single Mother. Learn more at www.michellelynnsenters.com and www.seenministries.com.
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Publication date: March 21, 2017