The kinds of questions children sometimes ask about God are not so different than the questions we have about God:
- Who created God?
- What does God look like?
- Why can’t we see God?
- How can Jesus fit in my heart?
- Why did God create Satan?
- Why do people get sick and die?
- Where is God?
We might ask them a little differently, but adults have the same kinds of questions about God — particularly when things are difficult or seem inexplicable. When trials and tragedies like Covid-19 arise, we might ask why God allows “innocent” people to die and why He doesn’t interject Himself to stop the trial and why He seems absent from the trial, leaving us “alone” to fight the difficulty.
As we saw Sunday morning in Psalm 139, God is not absent from our lives. He is never absent from any situation because He is ever-present in every location.
Sometimes God is present in order to sustain His created world (e.g., Col. 1:17).
Other times God is present in order to bless and guide His people, which is how Scripture views His presence with His people (e.g., Ps. 16:11; 23:3; 73:23-24; Prov. 6:22; Heb. 13:5; Rev. 21:3).
And sometimes in some places, God is present in order to judge and pour out His wrath (e.g., Amos 9:1-4; Rev. 14:9-11).
Whatever the circumstance and wherever the location, we can be sure that the Lord is always present. He is never absent; it is against His nature and impossible for the One who is omnipresent to ever be absent. Because of our finiteness, we not only choose at times to be absent when we should be present from certain situations, but to be present anywhere means we must be absent everywhere else. In His infinitude, God never faces that dilemma; for God to be present anywhere means He must also be present every else (or else He is not God). As Packer said, we “cannot get away from our Creator.”
Theologian Herman Bavinck rightly noted,
[God] does not act upon the world from a distance; but with his whole being he is present powerfully here and everywhere with respect to his essence and power. He is present in hell as well as in heaven, in the wicked as well as in the pious, in places of filth and darkness as well as in places of light. Because his essence, though omnipresent, is of a character different from that which pertains to creatures, he remains pure in the presence of all impurity. Hence, Anselm made the statement that it is more correct to say that God is with time and space, than that he is present in time and space. [Doctrine of God]
God is with His children, protecting them, guiding them, ordering their lives according to His exact purposes and plans in all times and in all places. He is present at the birth of a child and the death of a child. He is present for an “all clear” diagnosis from the doctor and at a “call hospice” exhortation from the doctor. He is present when there is no crisis and He is present when there is a Black Plague, Spanish Flu, or Covid-19 pandemic. He is always present, always working His will and always alongside His people caring for them.
This is our comfort. We need not be anxious because we have not been left destitute or alone by the One who is omnipresent. We may feel alone, but that does not overwhelm or change the reality that we are never alone.
One young pastor with small children who has dealt for years with a debilitating and unexplained neurological disease that keeps him from holding his children, opening the car door for his wife, and at times even feeding himself, has written this:
He is with us and he is for us. Unless we understand that with our hearts, we will be afraid. If God is your treasure, your soul will never be empty. If God is your refuge, you will never be deserted. If God is your fortress, you will never be unprotected. [Dave Furman, Kiss the Wave.]
Covid-19 is here in a powerful way. Covid-19 has not driven God away. Covid-19 has not overwhelmed God’s authority. God is here, ever-present, ever-guiding, ever-keeping, and ever accomplishing His will with each one of us, just as He always has been and always will be. God is with us. Always.