It never became a thing for me to talk about “when God shows up,” but I understand what people mean when they say it, and I appreciate their intent. They mean to encourage people to know when God does His thing, it’s usually a big, unimaginable and powerful answer to our prayers.
Like David early in his Psalms, he paints a picture of Jehovah God who often seems silent as we earnestly pray. At the time people are hating David so much, they’re pursuing him and intending to kill him. As God seems silent, David continues to plead with Him for mercy. Then, David musters his courage and reminds himself (and us) that even as God seems silent while we long for His answered prayers, He is actually busy. He describes a silent God who is observing His loyal servant who is scared for his life.
How does he describe this silent God, standing by, apparently doing nothing as His servant is about to be attacked? He describes God as a listening warrior, sharpening His sword and pulling back flaming arrows (the weapon of mass destruction of their day) with His bow. He describes a God about to unleash His unstoppable might on these enemies who intend harm to David — the one praying, wondering why God isn’t apparently doing anything (see Psalms 6-7).
When people say “God shows up,” they mean when God does His remarkable thing. They mean God does answer prayers, and when He does, He does it often in a grand way. He takes control and solves problems only the way God can.
They don’t mean God isn’t around, but pops in every now and then. They don’t want people to think God is absent a lot. Critics could take their statements in an unintended way.
When we’re down, we often feel alone. In reality, people often don’t notice when we’re going through very hard things, so they don’t go out of their way to reach out to us. Sometimes people know we’re going through things, but are so busy with their own drama they simply don’t think they have time to deal with ours. So we feel very alone and isolated.
Thinking God only shows up every so often can make people who feel very alone feel even more so. They imagine God isn’t showing up yet, and right at the time they need Him most. When people feel abandoned by their friends, family and God, they can reach a depression — a darkness that is difficult even for them to describe.
Compounding the situation is when people feel unworthy of God to “show up.” Sometimes we see ourselves as unforgivable. We feel we’ve crossed the line one too many times with God. We think we’ve messed up so badly, so often, “How could God ever forgive me? I don’t deserve it.”
You know what? None of us deserve God’s forgiveness. That’s what Jesus’ sacrifice was all about. He suffered, died and rose again, as the only perfect person. No one else can ever be “good enough.” He died for even the worst people amongst us. Anyone who wants to be forgiven can be — even repeat offenders.
After He rose from the dead, He told His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. I’m commanding that you are going to make disciples of all nations.” Then, He said, “And I will always be with you.” (Read carefully Matthew 28:18-20 for yourself, and live it.)
Know this: If you’re trying to live for Him, He stays “showed up.” You are never alone!
Pastor Jeff Adams is a professional Christian counselor who travels the world teaching but serves our community. His column appears weekly. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.