Life has those moments when God feels absent. Few times are as heartbreaking. As a Pastor, there is so little to say to those caught in the depths of despair when life feels alone.
What I have come to trust is this… that while the voice of God is quiet at times, God’s presence remains. And how do we know that? Two ways: a sense and a warmth.
The sense is not necessarily a clear direction but often a more simple sense of presence, that God is here TOO. As Isaiah phrases it,”Whether you turn to the right to the left, there I am.” We don’t necessarily experience that as a direct, transcendent connection with the divine but more through others. We are, as the well known Christian teaching holds, God’s hands and feet. So look for the presence in others; in “the helpers” as Mr. Rogers famously put it.
And what of the warmth? We find that as well in times of God’s apparent silence. Some of it so simple – a stranger holding a door, a simple hello. Yet at other times, warmth can surprise.
Recently in the mundane act of cashing a check at our local bank, the teller came around from behind the counter as I slowly filled out the white deposit slip. She commented on how she was leaving for a new banking job, that it was time for a new chapter, and that she was appreciative. And then she closed, with tears, asking for a hug. Warmth.
That is the warmth that is beyond mysterious to me. Obviously in ways I never knew. over years of simple, mundane transactions there at the bank, lost in the ordinary, some other transaction was taking place. A simple transaction far beyond my understanding or knowledge came from a sense of connection. Warmth always points this way… towards the absolute miracle we are to each other even in the bland normalcy of life.
When God feels absent, look for presence, reach towards warmth, and find a sense of God again as best you can.