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How Close is God?

“THE LORD IS NIGH unto all that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth” (Pas. 145:18).

The nearness of God to us is a question of widespread interest and certainly one worthy of our earnest concern. We ask, How close is God?

The apostle Paul said to the intelligentsia of Athens that the Lord is not far from any of us (Acts 17:27). The intellectuals of Athen's Areopagus (a forum discussion place) often considered the whereabouts of God. Like the worldly wise today, the Athenians thought they had all the answers. Every generation needs to know that God is just a prayer away and that He turns none away empty except those filled with self.

HOW CLOSE IS GOD? may be initially answered by saying that God is omnipresent which means that God is everywhere present in the fullness of His being. There is not a place in the whole universe, in Heaven or on earth, where God is not present. In reflecting upon the presence of God, The Psalmist David said that it would be impossible to escape from the presence of the Lord (Pas. 139:7—12).

The omnipresence of God is a theological truth we rejoice in, but how do we put a handle on it in a practical way? To say that God is everywhere does not mean a whole lot to the average person. Doctrine was never given to be cold dogma, but it is to be warm truth to bless, encourage and cheer our hearts along our journey home to the Father's house.

To begin to answer our question in a little more detail, we need to focus attention on the fact that God is as close as our immediate and deepest need. Isaiah, greatest of the writing prophets, rejoiced in the nearness of God to meet his needs, saying, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are speaking, I will hear” (Isa. 65:24).

One particular aspect of our Lord's nearness to us is that He is with us in all suffering. The Lord's presence is with us in physical pain, as well as heartache or emotional stress which saps our spiritual energy and motivation. Be assured that the Lord is with His own in every kind of suffering. It is common for one to think that the loneliness of pain and suffering that somehow he is is on his own. That kind of thinking is a fallacy because the Lord is always round about us on all occasions (Pas. 125:1-2). Many times we fail to practice the presence of our dear Lord. A man prayed, “Lord, we come now into Your holy presence .” A better prayer might be, “Lord, help us to realize that your holy presence is about us.”

We do well to know that the Lord is with us in the darkest hour of suffering. Our heavenly Father knows all about us, feels with us, and will help us to bear the burdens of sleepless nights and restless days. God was with Paul in his suffering (2 Cor. 12:7—10). The Lord was with Peter in his pain of affliction (I Per. 5:9).

HOW CLOSE IS GOD? He is as close as temptation, trial or testing. The Lord uses opposition to build us up. The devil uses temptation to wear us down. Trials are divinely designed to make us better, not bitter. The Lord, in the infinite wisdom of His power and by His loving, guiding hand, uses the disappointments of life to build and mature our character that we might learn to delight in His ways. Remember all sunshine makes a desert.

The testing of our faith is more precious than perishing gold (I Pet. 1:7). Trials are part of God's overall plan for us. A young pastor went to F. B. Meyer, London's great pastor whose life was a living devotion to his Lord, and requested prayer for patience in his ministry with people. The two of them fell to their knees to pray. In earnestness of soul, Meyer implored the Lord to send the young pastor tribulations. The young pastor interrupted, thinking that Meyer had misunderstood, and again requested prayer for patience. Meyer carefully indicated that he had understood the initial request and explained that the Lord uses trials of one sort or another to mature us in patience. The Lord desires that we practice what we believe, and trials seem to work in that direction.

Trials make us flee from the weakness of self to God for refuge and comfort. We cast ourselves upon the Lord's loving bosom of strength and find His hand of care more precious than a mother's tender caress. The trials of life do not separate us from the Lord, for they make his presence with us sweeter as the days go by. The Lord has promised a way of escape in all circumstances (I Cor. 10:13). He has promised never to leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5-6).

HOW CLOSE IS GOD? The Bible teaches us that He is in us, over us, underneath us, and round about us forever. He works in us and through us to achieve His perfect will for us that we might walk through life with our heads high and shoulders erect. He wants believers to be triumphant in trials and unafraid. We have this promise from the Lord. “Fear you not; for I am with you; be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yea, I will help you; yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isa. 41:10).

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