I have this one childhood memory that used to haunt me. When I was in first grade, a careless adult did a great deal of damage with very little effort and it seemed like the hurt from that incident couldn’t be undone.
I didn’t blame God for what happened — not at first anyway. I thought it was a bit cliche to do the shake-your-fist-at-God routine and demand answers from Him about things other people did.
But one Friday afternoon in 2007, the old painful memory came rushing back during a time of prayer. I began reliving the memory, along with many other hard experiences from my childhood, and with each recollection, my frustration with God’s lack of intervention grew stronger. Before long, I was hurling one of those shake-your-fist-at-God prayers to heaven and repeatedly asking Him, “Where were You?”
I eventually stopped praying and ended up feeling more exhausted than anything. And in the years that followed, I just took God at His word that whatever happened was somehow working for my good (Romans 8:28).
Through My Veins
Recently I was at church and we were singing the song, “No Longer Slaves.” When we got to the second verse, the lyrics struck me like they hadn’t before.
From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again into your family
Your blood flows through my veins
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
As I sang, the Holy Spirit responded to the question I had angrily asked Him ten years before: God, where were You?
His answer: I was there. “Do you not know that you are [My] temple and that [My] Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
He was literally there inside my flesh and blood in each painful moment. He wasn’t just observing — He was experiencing it. He was suffering with me.
God felt the confusion and fear that left my six-year-old brain in shock, and He felt everything else I ever experienced, from figuring out how to tie my shoes to hearing the news that my dear friend Erin had died in a horrific car accident.
Truth Coming to Life
As the magnitude of this truth began sinking in, scriptures came to life that hadn’t meant nearly as much to me before:
“‘If anyone loves me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him'” (John 14:23).
“Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4).
“The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” (Matthew 1:23).
He is with us. Not so much “closer than our skin” — more like in our skin, our index fingers, our eyes, our lungs, our brains, our knees, our hearts. No matter what joy or pain we’ve experienced in this life, we are incapable of experiencing these things alone.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). And nothing can separate us from His love because nothing can separate us from Him.
The artwork featured above is an original oil painting by Washington, D.C., artist Cris Clapp Logan. If you’d like an email with a weekly recap of what I’ve written, click here. You can also keep up with my latest articles (and more) on Facebook or Twitter.