Because of some family events the last several days, I’ve found myself wondering sometimes where God is. I’ve been teaching an online adult education course, and one of the questions I raised in it was this:
Is faith strengthened or tested when prayer and meditation have no feeling of divine presence during the act? If feeling is absent, especially for long periods, how can one know that God has listened and heard?
That’s not an easy question to ask…or to answer.
There were times when I felt that God was off somewhere else, listening to someone else–but not to me. My prayers seemed to go no further than the top of my head, and I really felt alone.
Oh, intellectually I knew that God was present because of past experiences, but my heart wasn’t so sure. I went back to read in some of my journaling and was reminded of a time when I felt God asking if I wanted the emotion of the experience or if I wanted the faith that would come from the experience. Ouch!
It’s easy to get addicted to wanting an emotional high. After all, we talk about “mountain-top experiences”…we focus on times and experiences when we have made special preparation and we know without a doubt that God’s presence is there. But those don’t happen every day.
As we go through our daily lives, we sometimes have go just slog through those times when simply putting one foot in front of the other can seem like a major chore…and we wonder where God is. But we’re not alone in that…not alone in finding it difficult to pray “your will, not mine.”
As I worried this last week, trying my hardest to pray “your will” and letting go of the one I loved–placing that individual into God’s care and keeping–I began to have a new appreciation of Christ’s prayer time in Gethsemane. He struggled then as well. Knowing what was facing him…knowing that he had spent his ministry trying to help others know of God’s love and care…he was still scared…still needing to know that God was with him.
If he struggled, then just maybe it’s okay for us to struggle as well. We don’t have to have all the answers; in fact, if we think we do, then we’re missing something significant in our life experience–and losing out on opportunities for ministry as we struggle both within ourselves and with others who have similar questions.
Jesus asked his friends to support him in Gethsemane…to be with him. They didn’t have to have answers; he just needed them to be present.
Sometimes that’s all we need as well…and all we need to offer to others.
Where is God? With our friends who support us in prayers…in presence…in tears…
God is found in the struggles and the questions…in the continued slogging, even when we’re not sure we can take one more step. God is in the persistence, even when it feels like no one’s listening and nothing’s happening. God is in the every-day-ness of life.