The church we have been visiting has been going through the book of Job in their study time. A number of calamities hit Job all at once out of the blue: loss of the great majority of his property, all his children, his health, and his good standing in the community. His friends insisted he must have sinned in some way to “deserve” all that happened to him. Job maintained his innocence and wished several times over that he could plead his case before God directly.
What struck me in our last discussion time at church, but which I didn’t have my thoughts together in time to share there, is that all the while Job wished to address God, God was right there. Job was unaware of the interaction between God and Satan and the celestial audience viewing his situation. God already knew Job’s innocence, integrity, trials, “miserable comforters,” as Job called his friends. When God addressed Job near the end of the book, He displayed that He knew all about Job’s troubles and a great deal besides, and He had everything in hand! “God did not “show up” at the end. God was there all along.
(Why, then, did God not relieve Job’s suffering? He did, eventually, but He had specific reasons for allowing it at this time. Elisabeth Elliot said in Keep a Quiet Heart, “It had to be proved to Satan, in Job’s case, that there is such a thing as obedient faith which does not depend on receiving only benefits.” Layton Talbert said in Beyond Suffering, “Satan’s accusation that Job is ‘pious only for pay’ undermines God as well as Job because if it is so, that means God is content with that arrangement” (p. 40). God may allow suffering for any number of reasons, but He promises His presence and grace and help through it).
Job did not have the whole written Word of God that we have. His book is one of the oldest in the Bible, so I’m not sure what he would have had in written Scriptures. He did show that he knew much truth.
In our day, we do have the whole written Word of God and millennia of history of God’s dealing with people, yet we still sometimes feel alone in our trials. Yet we know by faith, even though we don’t always “feel” it, that God is omnipresent: He is everywhere all the time. Psalm 139 says there is no place we can go where He is not. One of the names of Christ is “Immanuel…God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
There is a special way in which God is “with” His people, His children. In John 14, Jesus told His disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (verse 6), “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you“ (verses 16-17), “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (verse 23).
And with God’s presence is His love, power, wisdom and all the rest of His being and character.
Someday we’ll be with Him fully.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3, ESV).
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, ESV).
Someday, we’ll even see His face:
No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads (Revelation 22:3-4, ESV).
But for now, He’s just as near, just as aware, just as loving, as He can be.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4, ESV).
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works (Psalm 73: 23-28, ESV).
Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, NASB).
If you are not “with” God as one of His children, He invites you, the Bible invites you, and I invite you to come to know Him in that way:
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3, NASB).
This song, “God Is There,” is written by Faye Lopez and based on Psalm 139. Though I have known this song for years, I don’t know the people in the video, but they do a great job portraying this truth that God Is There.
God is there when I am searching.
God is there when I’m afraid.
God is there when sorrows break my heart
And leave my life dismayed.
God is there when life’s uncertain
When I am alone, when I’m betrayed.
God is there. He’ll be my fortress.
God is there!
Word and Music by Faye Lopez