He, being coeternal with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, has fashioned us to crave human companionship. He has created the church, a set apart people, and has called us to live in peace and harmony with our families, friendships, and local communities. But what should we do when it feels like community feels unattainable, or when we are simply met with unwanted silence? During the past year and a half, all of us on some level have struggled with the ache of forced isolation. We have experienced firsthand the results of a sin-stained world. It can cause us to wonder if Jesus can really be all that we need—if He can be all-sustaining. Can Jesus, like the popular song says, truly be our “all in all” when it feels like we cannot connect to the people around us?
To answer that question, I think it is helpful to turn to the first chapter of Acts. Imagine being one of the disciples on the day of Jesus’ ascension. One minute He tells you that you will be His witness to the ends of the earth, and the next, He is whisked up to heaven and vanishes behind some cumulus clouds. It would be a strange sight, and a little unnerving. Besides the fact that your risen Savior just poofed out of sight, you would face a mammoth task—preaching the good news to the entire world. How could you possibly do this without the strength and guidance from your Teacher?
I can understand the disciples’ initial confusion when Jesus went up to heaven. Sometimes when I am in the midst of a lonely season, I crave the physical presence of the One who promises to be all that I need. I can find it difficult to understand how the Lord could be with me; like the disciples, I find myself “looking through the clouds,” hoping Jesus was still on earth in the flesh. It is easy for me to forget that the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of Christ, lives in me.
During my busiest weeks, when I am chasing a thousand different things, the Devil, that sly serpent, whispers in my ear that maybe God is not here after all—that I am all alone. One of the biggest lies that the snake speaks to me is this: if I do not tangibly feel Jesus’ presence, He must be absent.
This lie burrows into my head. I enter the rabbit hole. Suddenly, my thoughts are consumed with the fear that maybe God is not here after all.
These are dangerous doubts, and by the grace of God I am led to Scripture to fill my heart and mind with the truth. Scripture is the weapon against this deception. I draw my sword to pierce the lie with these words: “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8, NIV). This is just a tiny fraction of the multitude of passages which speak of God’s presence with us. Another passage from Isaiah 58:9 reads: “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.” Let us keep this truth always in the forefront of our minds.
Let us remember that in just the next chapter of Acts we learn that the Holy Spirit blew on the disciples and gave them holy fire. We learn that from this time onward, we as believers are temples which house this Spirit, and it is the very Spirit of Jesus in us who works every day to lead, comfort, chastise, and protect. So why does it seem, in this age of strife, heartache, and tension, that Our Lord is not with us? Are we, like the twelve, gazing into the air and seeing nothing? Let us listen to the voice of the angel who said: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Praise the Lord! We are living with His Spirit in us who tells us that He is never far away. And then, one day, He will return in bodily form and we will experience perfect community.
Written by Amy Johnson