“All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.” Psalm 25: 10, 16-17 ESV
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21: 3-4 ESV
Our immutable King Jesus is on His throne and the sovereign and faithful one is with us in every season. In His steadfast love for us, He promises to always be present. Weaving the tapestry of our lives with joys and sorrows, our Creator is unfolding the masterpieces He began in us for His good purposes. Growing in our faith as we welcome the Lord’s immense love, we joyfully worship as we walk in the light of His presence.
In the Garden of Gethsemane awaiting His crucifixion, the Suffering Servant experienced the sorrow of loneliness from a broken heart. Deserted by the disciples after requesting that they watch and pray, Jesus prayed alone. (Matthew 26:38) Yet for the joy that was set before Him, our Savior endured the cross. (Hebrews 12:2)
Jesus understands us perfectly, He is able to help us in every way we need when we cry out to Him. Even when our world falls apart and nothing seems to make sense, we can hold fast to Jesus because we are being held fast by Him. (Philippians 3:12) We confidently stand on His trustworthy promises that He will preserve those who remain faithful to Him. Our living hope is anchored in the Father’s love that will not let us go.
Jesus’ loving presence was with George Matheson who was left alone after being diagnosed with eventual blindness. Broken hearted after his fiancée ended their engagement, George, within five minutes, penned the lyrics for his nineteenth century hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go”. He found the Lord’s joy in his sorrow and expressed it in the third verse:
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow thru the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
Jesus’ loving presence was with the first century Christians whose passion for the gospel was ignited. Paul and Silas were attacked by a mob, beaten and imprisoned with the uncertainty that they might not live to see another day, yet they worshiped the Lord with praying and singing hymns.(Acts 16:25) We can rejoice even in difficult circumstances because Jesus is the living hope within us and keeps us going.
Jesus’ loving presence was with Apostle John, who was exiled on the island of Patmos. In a vision, John was given the words from the Lord to address seven churches in Asia Minor, present day Turkey. Although she suffered greatly, only ancient Smyrna has survived with a Christian population today. In the underground excavations, below the modern city of Izmir, the gentle sound of flowing water can be heard. Seen overhead are crown-like arches, a reminder of the promise that those who remain faithful will receive the crown of life. (James 1:12) Smyrna’s hallmark of faithfulness was displayed in courageous Bishop Polycarp, a disciple of John. Even though he faced his martyrdom, Polycarp boldly proclaimed, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong-how then can I blaspheme my King who died for me?”
Although we probably won’t be faced with martyrdom like Polycarp, we will suffer stormy seasons that may feel overwhelming. However, when we draw close to the Lord, He draws close to us. (James 4:8) We, too, can be overcomers because of the blood of the Lamb who conquered all on the cross for us.
Over the years of daily scripture reading, I’ve been amazed at how the Lord has always had the perfect word for me. When I need it most, He gives me a rhema word to strengthen and encourage me, releasing His light into my difficult days. When we choose to keep praying and thanking the Lord for who He is in spite of painful circumstances, He releases us from a spirit of heaviness, refreshes us, and empowers us to endure. Then as we worship Him with our sacrifice of praise, the joy of the Lord becomes our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
When heartbreak seems to assail us without relenting, we can rejoice that we aren’t alone. We can worship our loving Father, because He is always worthy to be praised. (Psalm 18:3) Like the prophet Habakkuk who chose to firmly embrace God, regardless of his uncertain future, we, too, can worship the Lord with these words, “Yet, I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength.” (Habakkuk 3: 18-19a) Assured of a living God, we can joyfully hope for that promised crown of life. We can worship God confidently, trusting that His story is still unfolding into a glorious outcome.