God’s Presence in Anguish

I think about suffering. Remembering times past. Anticipating times future. Did I know Him in the fray? Will I in the coming days? I search stories of suffering saints for evidences of grace. How did God help them? 
There is sure Biblical precedent for crying out for help in times of distress. But I know that in the midst of pain what I cry out for is not His presence to be felt, or even great revelation, or even a quiet knowing…it is a cry for relief, immediate deliverance. “Lord help me!”, at least in my experience, is usually a cry to escape. 
The psalmists speak of this longing. Cries for deliverance from a desperate heart. “Deliver me Oh God!”

But there is another declaration in the Psalms. One that might be the most strengthening of all. 
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
and even more pronounced in Psalm 73, in the midst of a familiar lament about the prosperity of the wicked the Psalmist makes a fantastic statement. 

  • Yet I am always with You;You hold my right hand.24 You guide me with Your counsel,and afterward You will take me up in glory.25 Who do I have in heaven but You?And I desire nothing on earth but You.26 My flesh and my heart may fail,but God is the strength of my heart,my portion forever.27 Those far from You will certainly perish;You destroy all who are unfaithful to You.28 But 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.

In the midst of great frustration which he finally sees as destructive, he makes the greatest  affirmation:  You are with me. You hold my right hand. Now and in the future. In fact You ARE my future. You and You alone. I may lose everything, but YOU are the sum of all things. Your very nearness is what is good for me. 
I am stirred. When in the midst of a painful situation, emotional or physical, major or minor,  we can speak to Him, like the Psalmist, “You are here with me. You are faithful. All my hope is in You.”  Pure worship. Unmixed adoration. No begging or pleading. Confident proclamation of trust. I tried this. The other night, in a flurry of anxiety, by grace, I stopped in my tracks and told Him I knew He was near. Right here. It was an almost immediate calm. Like Jesus speaking to the storm. I think He was speaking to the swirl in me. It was not the hugest trial. It was small in comparison to what many go through, or even what I have gone through in past days. But His faithfulness didn’t need a massive crisis to be what it is. He doesn’t wait for a certain degree of trial to show steadfast love. It is who He is. I have been practicing His presence this way a few times since. I am finding Him faithful. 
Declaring His immediate presence is a Biblical act of faith and a recognition to make ourselves aware of Him and perspective changes along with this wonderful supernatural awareness. Oh for the truth of this to awaken us, to penetrate our dullness. 
“Behold, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” 
Yes, You are. Even now.