If you have ever asked yourself – where is God – you are not alone. Placing trust in what we cannot see is not easy when God’s silence feels like abandonment and our situations remain stagnant. So how do we trust Him when we feel like we can’t? We first start by finding reasons to be thankful. When we focus on our blessings that exist in the present, we begin to understand that we are still in God’s presence.
The Purpose of Gratitude
God’s presence is powerful. When Moses approached the burning bush in Exodus 3:5, God said “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” When we are in God’s presence, we have connected with Him in a way that elevates our spiritual experience. Gratitude is the gift that allows us to not only recognize the presence of God, but to experience Him. In doing so, we begin to develop a stronger confidence in relying on God’s judgement over our own.
Yet, God is not one-sided. He knows the development of trust is a two-way street. As we open ourselves to God, He responds by sending the Holy Spirit. We begin to see more clearly God’s hands working in our lives and our faith in Him increases. God gives, even when we don’t. Nevertheless, we know that the challenges will come. Doubt creeps in and we become distracted. We stop being thankful for the smallest of miracles because we are waiting on the “greatest” ones to occur. The blessings that occur in the meantime are attributed to coincidence. We being to rewrite the past – inserting more of self and consequently chipping away at God as the source of our strength.
And then, without fail, the challenges of life rise to levels that become uncomfortable and at times, even unbearable. We cry out to God, asking Him why He has disappeared. He responds that He has not. He’s always been here with us, but He has given us choice. In those moments, it is up to us to decide if we will refocus on seeking God’s presence or if we will walk away. It’s our choice, and what we decide will determine how we manage what’s next.
God’s Presence and His Absence
Should we choose to continue to seek God, we begin to learn more of where God is, and where He is not. We feel His presence, and notice His absence. When God is an active part of our lives, He finds ways to make Himself known to us. Through gratitude we see the way in which He moves. We feel His presence… we experience His goodness…we acknowledge His peace. We begin to interpret His silence as a bid to be patient. We learn to wait as God begins to redirect our course by first redirecting our hearts and souls. Most importantly, we learn how to listen.
To trust God is to know His voice. To know God’s voice is to experience His presence. This is the foundation of faith – the ability to have courage in your beliefs – to know, unequivocally, God is real. He hears us and He is working for our good.
Life isn’t perfect. Sometimes we experience doubt. We question where God is or if what’s happening is what He intended. The answers aren’t always as clear as we’d like but that should never stop us from seeking God’s presence – to know that He is available to us and that He truly cares about us. With faith, we can pray the prayer found in Psalms 51:10-12:
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
With faith, we will know that not only does God hear us, but He will respond and provide us with what is best.
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