After…

We all have those times when we wonder where God is. Many of us, if not all of us, have felt deserted by Him at some time – or just always doubted His existence at all. The outcome of my surgeries, the fact of that being plural to begin with, left me feeling very abandoned.

I don’t want to dwell on the story, it’s not important. The end result was that I had to have a colostomy. The very thing I feared and prayed I would not have to have.

The real story is in the after – the weeks that have followed this life changing event. I felt so defeated. My faith was shattered. I felt alone. I did not feel good. I was weak. I cried every day. I was so tired, but dreaded sleeping because I would wake up so depressed. The worst was that I could not feel God’s presence. How could He leave me like this? So, really now, where was He? Does He exist? Am I a fool to believe?

We as humans, seem to have this 6th sense. We have all that experience of knowing someone was in the room with us before we saw them, or even heard them. We just know. We can feel the presence of those who are with us at a deeper level than mere sight and sound. Think about it – isn’t that why we have our personal bubbles?

But if we don’t FEEL God’s presence – we think He is not there. What I have come to realize is that He is there in many more ways than just a physically or emotionally “felt” presence. That is what I want to share to day, is the MANY ways that God is there, constantly with us. Jesus promised He would be with us always. He is called Emmanuel – God with us! He promised before He returned to the Father, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20. So what does that mean?

Sometimes – I believe because I have experienced it – it DOES mean an actual feel-able presence. My father died when I was 11. At his funeral, I felt a presence right beside me. Physically, there was a wall there, but I knew with a certainty, no less sure these 40+ years later, that Jesus was there right beside me! I also had a similar experience of feeling Jesus presence during the time that I was dealing with my mom’s death this last year.

Sometimes it comes in the form of a miracle. Just before Thanksgiving this year I was dealing with significant depression. I heard the words in a song “I need a miracle”, and I thought, “Yes, God, I need a miracle. I don’t want to have to go on anti-depressants. I need Your help. I can’t do this alone” This was a Thursday, I decided the next day, Friday, that I would call my doctor on Monday and request anti-depressants.  By the time Monday came – the depression was gone!

I could go on and on about how He answered even little prayers so often in miraculous ways. Giving me needed encouragement through a song or an unexpected event. Even giving me rainbow in the sky when I asked to see a tiny piece of His glory, because I knew He would be near when He came to take Mom home.

What I have come to realize, is that God is also present in and through other people. The apostle Paul speaks about “the body” in both Romans and 1 Corinthians. Jesus is there in their presence as well! The “Body” of the church!  I felt so loved and cared for during my recovery by so many of my Christian friends, and not just those who show up at the same building as I do on Sundays. Sure, they did the meal thing, but also so much more!

They spent time with me, they sent me cards and even books to read. There were flowers and mugs and framed art. Understand these were not special friends. Mostly this was from people who barely know me. Is this not the “Body of Christ”? Is this not exactly what Paul was speaking of? God was present in and through His people. I did not “feel” His presence, but I did almost miss it.

Then, today another thought came to me. Is God not present in His creation? Romans 1:20 reminds us that His attributes are clearly seen in His creation. Are we not His creation? Even in the way our bodies and minds are made, He is there! Look at how we are made! God gave us bodies that are able to adapt and change to accommodate new needs. I can live and be without pain because of this medical miracle. Our minds may reel at unexpected and unwanted events – but we heal! Time alone helps us to cope.

I marveled today at how my confidence has grown in my ability to take care of my new needs. I see it in my willingness to try something new and know that I will be okay even if it doesn’t go as hoped.

I have suffered loss. Many times. The loss of loved ones, the loss of dreams, the loss of a “normal” body now. So, I understand fully how we are able to cope, heal and move on, through the hurts and disappointments life hands us. God gave us, in the makeup of our psychology, the ability to deal.

So please, don’t miss it! Don’t think that because you do not feel Him, that He is not present in your pain. Blessed are those who truly feel and sense His very presence, but blessed also are those who have been touched by Him in the form of other people! Blessed are those who have experienced a miracle, but blessed are we all in the miracle of the wonderful creation that is our physical bodies. Don’t miss it! He is there. He loves you. He is truly – Emmanuel.

Gloria Jackson

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