"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
Only regarding trouble does Scripture declare God as being "very" present. Of course, our Lord loves to bless us with happy, pleasant things and experiences. He is with us in those, rejoicing as we rejoice, and being glad in our gladness. "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). However, God's obvious blessings do not generally bring jeopardy to our hearts and lives. Trouble does, which leads our Lord to draw especially near with His promise of help and guidance. "I will be glad and rejoice in Thy mercy: for Thou hast considered my trouble, Thou hast known my soul in adversities" (Psalm 31:7).
The challenge, of course, is that trouble often tempts us to perceive God not as being especially near, but rather as far away. The same David who affirmed his Lord as "very present" also expressed the feelings of his flesh in another Psalm: "Why standest Thou afar off, o Lord? Why hidest Thyself in times of trouble?" (Psalm 10:1). Trouble challenged David with the sense of aloneness, as it does every human being. In fact, this may constitute its greatest threat. If we do not confront the lie of being alone , we attempt to face our challenges by ourselves. For born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, this belies the blessed truth: "I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20). Facing difficulty apart from the remembrance of God's presence and promise of "very present help in trouble" leads down pathways of bright illumination we fail to perceive because we close our eyes of faith. "The light shineth in darkness" (John 1:5).
In recent days, I have frequently expressed, "With trouble comes opportunity." This is true, but far more to the point, "With trouble comes God." He provides a special dispensation of presence, promise, provision, and power when difficulty of any mode or measure comes our way. What might the Lord do for the trusting saint who opens eyes of faith to see Him through tears of pain, sorrow, and bewilderment? The Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the history of the church of God answer that our Heavenly Father will do much, first in our hearts to reveal His peace, and then in our circumstances and conditions to reveal how very present He is. This does not always mean deliverance from our challenge, although we rightly rejoice if it does. Sometimes it means deliverance in our challenge, that is, "the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).
We also do well to remember the price of God's presence in our trials. Long ago, the voice of a broken Heart cried out into the darkness, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). Rather than being "very present", God the Father and God the Holy Spirit utterly abandoned God the Son as He bore Divine wrath for our sins. Very absent rather than "very present" enveloped the heart of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. In direct proportion, the promise sounds and resounds through the ages to all who trust the Savior: "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5). Indeed, the greatest of all trouble came to the Lord Jesus. He faced it alone for our sakes so that when trouble comes to us, we face it with Him for the glory of God. "Very present." These are not just words. They are rather a gift freely given to us by One who knew loneliness to its utmost sense of despair. May we remember the cost whenever trouble comes our way, and affirm that the darkest valley shines with brightest light for all who will open their eyes to see.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me."
Weekly Memory Verse
"And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward another, and toward all."
(I Thessalonians 3:12)