First Mennonite Morton



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    When God is Near

    May 11, 2021 Aaron Yoder
    Filed Under:
    Prayer, Faith
    You may also listen to this 4-minute devotional by clicking here.

    PSALM 34:15, 18-19 (ESV)
    “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears toward their cry…The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

    Typically, when we think of the good life that Jesus offers, we tend to think of our security in heaven or the presence of abiding joy that Jesus offers His disciples.  These are wonderful elements which enable us to say that life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. 

    However, these benefits tend to be forgotten when we are suffering.  Heaven becomes too far away and joy evaporates.  When afflictions come, as promised in verse 19, it’s God’s nearness which we must consider as a tremendous gift.  But what does that look like?  Consider this illustration. 

    Our youngest children like having sleepovers in the basement from time to time.  When this happens, they bring down their familiar blankets, pillows and stuffed animals to help the basement feel a little more like their bedroom.  However, they usually like one other element to be present: the monitor.  The monitor is a radio device which allows us to hear them when they call.  They experience a sense of peace knowing that mom and dad are ‘near’.  This nearness manifests itself in two ways.  One is in our hearing them.  The other is when we come downstairs and offer our physical presence, which is especially important during greater times of need.

    Psalm 34 also describes God’s availability in two ways.  First, God sees and hears us (v15).  This doesn’t mean that God is unaware of so-called ‘secretive’ actions among the unrighteous.  No, nothing is hidden from God’s sight (Jer. 16:17).  However, the focus of this text is that God is especially attuned to the cries of His people.

    Second, God is available by being intentionally close when we are brokenhearted.  Sometimes, He even commissions angels to come and offer an extra layer of provision (see Ps. 34:7).  Indeed, one of the benefits of being a child of God by faith in Jesus is God’s nearness.

    Yet, it’s easy to doubt God’s nearness, especially during times of affliction.  We don’t hear God’s audible voice and don’t always ‘feel’ God’s presence. 

    So how can we genuinely testify to the ‘abundant life’ which Jesus promised while also walking through dark valleys? 

    The nearness of God is most often experienced by an inner peace which surpasses understanding (Phil 4:7).  Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give.” while also promising the Holy Spirit (John 15:23-28).  Even when circumstances crush us, God’s tangible presence, offered through His Spirit, give His children a quiet calm to persevere another day, to grieve with hope, and to even praise His name. 

    Can you testify to the nearness of God in this way?  If so, consider praying for opportunities to share your story to those who do not know. 

    God offers earthly deliverance through the presence of His peace.  Not only is His peace helpful, but it’s also a preview of the final deliverance coming someday when God dwells with His people again. 

    Lord, help us cling to you during trials and testify of Your powerful peace among those who hurt.  Through Jesus, Amen!

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