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Our Ever-Present God
by Steve O. Alabi

‘Am I a God who is only close at hand?’ says the Lord. ‘No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?’ says the Lord (Jeremiah 23:23-24).

Before my personal encounter and relationship with God, I had a major life crisis in my late twenties. I felt so alone and dejected. An elderly friend told me that God is aware of the situation, He is only amusing Himself with my reaction to the situation. I now know better.

The current economic situation makes us feel helpless and probably think God has left us alone. How wrong can we be?
When we feel let down or hopeless or chased upon by the pressures of life, we always have a well-sheltered place to go to. We have God as our strength. As soon as we are hit with trouble on every side, our minds think fast on help options that are quickly accessible, but the Bible teaches us to make God our refuge and our strength. He is always near to help. We don’t have to go out looking for God because He is always a present help, meaning, He is always there, always present. It also means that we don’t have to panic thinking if God will hear us or not.

God is our refuge as well as strength. He is a very present help in times of trouble. God is our place of shelter or refuge. He also is our strength. When we feel we have strength, it is not our strength actually. It is God’s. He is a very present help in our times of trouble. It means we don’t have to go out seeking or searching for Him but that God is always there, He is always a help at hand, He is always near. There is no other better help than God himself.

Sometimes, we’re afraid to acknowledge the nearness of God. To encounter God’s presence means to be made more and more like Him (2Corinthians 3:18). So we ignore the reality of His persistent, presence through personal relationship, and instead turn to life’s distractions: working more, endlessly spending time on social media, or anything to numb my heart and mind by making us lose our focus on God.

Living this way makes us miss out on really knowing Him, missing the opportunity to join the psalmist in proclaiming the gift of God’s presence: “As for me, God’s presence is my good. I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, so I can tell about all you do” (Psalm 73:28).
The Scripture has so much more to say about God’s presence.

In every passage, we’re told that God also desires to be have a relationship and be relationally present with His people. God heard when time the enslaved Israelites cried out against the injustice they suffered in Egypt, and He showed up in a visible pillar of cloud and fire to lead them on their journey out of captivity.

Even today, God is before all things and holds all things together and He intercedes for us in wordless groans when we are overwhelmed and even we don’t know how or what to pray for.
‘Am I a God who is only close at hand?’ says the Lord. ‘No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?’ says the Lord (Jeremiah 23:23-24).

Our God is the God who has no limits. Now, that is hard for us to even imagine, because most of the frustrations in our lives are a direct result of our limitations.
We’re constantly meeting questions we can’t answer and facing circumstances we can’t control.
God is not limited by space and time. But here we find that our God describes himself as being both near and far. The false prophets have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. God fills heaven and earth, which means there’s no place in the universe that God is not present.

Such a view of the presence of God is entirely wrong, ‘for he himself has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you”’ (Hebrews 13:5). We don’t have to beg and plead with God to be here. We don’t have to worry that he is not with us in those trying moments at work – or that a Sunday might come when God forgets to turn up for the Mass. Since he isn’t limited by space, we can draw near to him at any time in any place – because he himself has already drawn near to us!

Jesus promised, ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them’. The context is that of fellowship but Jesus’ statement is completely general.
Furthermore, Christ’s promise to ‘two or three’ is mirrored elsewhere in Scripture by similar promises to the individual believer. Paul was humanly alone when he faced trial in Rome: ‘At my first defence no one stood with me, but all forsook me’. But he could continue, ‘But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me’ (2 Timothy 4:16-17).

‘I will not leave you orphans’, Jesus told his fretful disciples; ‘I will come to you’ (John 14:18). As the context makes clear, Christ comes to us in the person of the Holy Spirit – the other Helper who will ‘abide with us forever’.
We may not always feel his presence; we may even very often feel alone. But we can be confident that he is here. ‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? … 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’ (Psalm 139:7-10).

Make this God, your God of strength and refuge as well as a Help that you can always rely upon. If God is for us, there can be nobody who can be against us. Put your hope and trust in God.

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