God Is Not Far

When you’re suffering, you reach for comfort. You reach for hope. You reach for some reason to get up in the morning and fight again. You reach for something that won’t make your suffering the dominant experience of that moment or that day, the thing that controls you and beats up your heart.

The thing that gave me comfort was knowing that the one I was praying to wasn’t distant. He was near.

I can’t think of anything that is more powerfully comforting than these words: I will never leave you or forsake you. The God of the universe, who created and controls everything, was with me in my suffering, and he wouldn’t leave.

In my moment of greatest pain, all I could pray was God, help me. No other words would come out of my mouth. The thing that gave me comfort was knowing that the one I was praying to wasn’t distant. He was near.

He Will Not Be Defeated

And he wasn’t disgusted by my weakness and he would never turn his back on me. He would never leave and he would never get overwhelmed. He would never grow impatient, he would never be unfaithful. What could be more comforting?

There is nothing that has the power to defeat him. Suffering defeated me, but not him. To know that it’s impossible for me to be in any human experience by myself—no matter how foundationally dark and seemingly impossible—is the ultimate comfort.

One of the dangers of suffering is that you can fall into God-amnesia, where your suffering overwhelms your knowledge or remembrance of his presence. In those hospital rooms, in those moments of suffering, my wife simply repeated these words to me: Your Lord is near.



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