The Living God

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Jesus rose from the grave and He is with us, now, and in our darkest hours. He will never leave you nor will He forsake you.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living GodPsalm 42:3.

A few years ago, I walked through a season of life that can only be described as a wilderness. Throughout the Bible, a wilderness season is a time of testing, trying, and training of an individual. It is often marked by a period of isolation, loneliness, temptation, sorrow and waiting.  Why? Circumstances that try us, train us. Situations that break us, shape us. Such is the wilderness. In the midst of the “dark night of the soul,” we are often miserable, but there, we are made. 

During my personal wilderness journey, fears hounded me like a wild animal. As I walked through that season, there were many times Satan tempted me to believe that God had abandoned me. There were moments in which the pain was so intense that I felt forsaken. Yet, even in the darkest of hours, I could not deny that God was with me. The Bible was my life-line of truth and many nights the pillow that held my tears. The Psalms provided comfort to my soul; for I could relate to the psalmist’s cries. 

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God. 
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
--Psalm 42: 1-3

One night while reading this Psalm, the phrase,“living God” jumped off the page. I stopped and pondered that truth. Living… God… First of all living means to “be alive.” (Duh? No, I didn’t need to go to seminary to figure that one out.) And then we have the word “God”. This is a word we use so flippantly that perhaps it has lost some of its weight and meaning. God… He is The Almighty, Sovereign, Creator, Ruler, Self-existent Being, The Sustainer of Life.  That’s some pretty powerful stuff. 

As I read the words “Living God,” my heart burst with joy realizing that my God is indeed alive. He isn’t an enshrined deity far removed from our hurt and pain. No, we serve a God who has experienced life on this earth with its rejection and betrayal, and, yes, HE IS ALIVE! Jesus is with us in our time of need. He understands every loss and trial we face.  I can’t tell you how much comfort this truth brought to my soul. Jesus rose from the grave and He is with us, now, in our darkest hours. 

One of the greatest “with me” moments actually occurred at the beginning of my wilderness. I was anticipating a break-up with someone that I had hoped would lead to marriage. My heart didn’t want to let go, but I knew it was only a matter of time. In many ways it was a death of hope and of my plan for the future. One night as I tried to fall asleep, yet all I could do was pray, I sensed God speaking these words to my heart:

“You will be heartbroken.

You will face rejection.

You will be forsaken.

You will feel humiliated.

You will be abandoned.

But remember,

I am with you. 

For, I, too, was brokenhearted. 

I, too, was rejected. 

I, too, was forsaken.

I, too, faced humiliation.

And, I, too, was abandoned.

I can walk this road with you

because I walked this road before you.

I know the way. 

I am the way. 

Follow Me.”

As God spoke these words to my heart, images of Christ flashed through my mind. I envisioned Jesus’ best friends abandoning him in the hours before the cross. I imagined His own family rejecting him. I saw the very people He came to rescue, abuse and ridicule him; and I realized my God did understand my pain. He is the Living God who experienced suffering and sorrow. The fact that He understood me, made turning to Him in my wilderness so much more real. 

As the months progressed and the pain increased, one thing never changed. I knew Jesus was alive. I knew He was not just a historical figure or a great teacher. Even when I didn’t have the strength to put one foot in front of another, I knew He was with me; and in many ways, carrying me through the darkest days. 

Today, I marvel at how people can endure trials without Jesus. Truly, His Presence is the only real comfort in times of grief. His Word is the only real light in the midst of darkness. His Name is the only real power that can make the Enemy flee. Without Jesus, the brokenness of this world is overwhelming, but with Jesus, we have Hope, Strength, Courage and Peace...because we have Him. As Psalm 73:28 says, “The nearness of my God is my good!” There are times in this life that all we have to hold onto is Jesus. And in those times, I have found...He is enough! 

Let us ponder His final words to the disciples as He ascended into heaven, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”(Matthew 28:20). Friends, take heart... Jesus is alive. Jesus is with you. Right now. This very moment, in your wilderness season, He will never leave you nor will he forsake you. 

"My precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."
(Footprints in the Sand, Author Unknown)

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