At a memorial service a couple of weeks ago, the presiding pastor, in an effort to comfort the mourners, said that God comes closest when we are down. I suspect he may have been reaching out to those in the crowd who are not Christian, who do not have God to lean on in good times and bad. There was something about the message of closeness in times of trouble that didn’t seem right to me. What would Jesus have to say?
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. … But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. … On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. … Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:16, 17b, 20, 23)
“For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.” John 3:34, NIV
Does God’s closeness to us truly change with our personal circumstances and emotions? I rather suspect God’s love for us and desire to be near us is not at all affected by anything we might do or feel.
I believe the pastor presiding over the memorial service was correct, in that we tend to feel God’s presence more when we are down. But this is not because God comes closer when we are low. God is always close. We feel His presence more, simply because we may tend to look for Him more when times get tough. He’s here, without limit; all we have to do is look.
As Jesus said, in quoting from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, “Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” (Matthew, 13:15b). Turn to Jesus; His spirit, the Holy Spirit is right there with you, always.
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
(Selections underlined by E.D.)