Once a month, you’re going to hear from our authors, from our team, or from a guest on how we study the Bible, what resources we use, and what questions we ask.
In this season of prolonged isolation, I’ve often felt the nagging tension of loneliness.
I’m grieving what “would be” if the screens and phones were unnecessary and the rhythms of our lives matched what they were six months ago. Maybe you’ve felt it, too.
God has wired His people for deep community: an intimacy of both knowing and being known. Relationships are core to humanity’s identity because they are core to God’s identity. Our God has perfect relational union as Father, Son, and Spirit and created humanity in His image, an image seen in our ability to develop relationships with one another and also with God. Yet, in God’s perfect provision, He hasn’t given us a desire for deep relationships without being able to meet that need Himself.
There is both a current and coming nearness with our God, ushered in by the new covenant and seen in the tearing of the veil, establishing access to the Father through the blood of the Son. God’s nearness to His people is the promise of the gospel, the reward given to His good and faithful servant. It is both His immanence to His people and His work in creation and His transcendence from humanity that beckons us to come, lay our heavy yoke down, and trust Him to meet our needs.
The God we serve is not like us, and this is good news! His ways are not our ways, His thoughts not our thoughts. God is transcendent, or separate and different from His creation, because He is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent, or, said another way, He is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present, and all-good.
It is in His knowing of all things that we know He sees our struggles and our triumphs and cares, and it is in His omnipresence that He may be consistently with us, both sustaining the rising and setting of the sun and comforting us in our distress. It is in His all-power that He has the control, strength, and authority to do something about the situations we face. It is supremely in His goodness that His power, knowledge, and presence can be enjoyed because His character is kindness, not harm. It is in His presence and His infinite goodness that we find He is worthy of our worship and trust because He is not wired like we are, broken by the fall and bent toward sin.
He sees, and He is powerful and sovereign over all. He will do as He pleases for His glory and for your good, and because this is true, His presence is our greatest gift.
In the moments when we feel the isolation wrap its cold fingers around our hearts, may the remembrance of the nearness, or immanence, of our God thaw us. The goodness of our God to be near to His people sets Him apart from the other gods we so often choose to serve, whether that be a god with a name or the gods we erect in our hearts, thinking they might do something about our condition. These lifeless gods who cannot save and cannot comfort in the darkest nights of the soul leave us feeling empty and more alone than before. Many world religions have gods to whom they look, but only Christianity reveals a God who is intimately engaged in the lives of His people. He is peace, and we know peace because we know God and He has drawn near to us.
God’s promise is nearness—a covenant relationship with those whom He knows by name. The greatest curse of the fall wasn’t thorns sprouting from the ground to thwart our work or immense pain in childbirth; it was separation. Sin separated us from the God who sees us, who loves us, and who is near us, not that we were outside of His view, but that our sin casts us outside of His right communion.
Often, when a chasm forms between me and the God I love, it’s because I’ve become less appalled by my sin, less concerned with the daily repentance that knits me to His heart. Sin continues to separate, but Jesus paid the penalty for our required separation, acting as our Mediator with a holy God, advocating for us and ushering us into God’s presence.
He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who met with Moses and Solomon and spoke through prophets. He heard the cry of Hagar’s baby son in the wilderness after she was sent away, sustaining their lives because He is the God who sees and cares about the hurting and the desperate.
Through Jesus, God’s place of meeting with humanity has been transitioned from a temple building of stone to a tabernacle of flesh. God not only dwelled among us in Christ, but also sent the Holy Spirit to be within us. This is a closeness that no other can fill, a way of being known that will never be matched. When loneliness creeps in, may we draw near to God through His Word and prayer as Scripture promises He will also draw near to us.
He knows His people and has revealed Himself so that He might also be known. He knows your struggle in this season. He sees, and He is moving on your behalf. And most of all—He is near.
Mary Wiley lives with her husband John and their two preschoolers, and they attend and serve at Fairview Church in Lebanon, TN. She works as the women’s book marketing strategist for B&H Publishing Group and loves all the stereotypical publishing things: words, books, paper, and coffee. She hosts the Questions Kids Ask podcast, helping parents understand how to answer their kids’ tough theological questions. She recently released a resource centered on understanding the essential truths of our faith and how they apply to our everyday lives. You can order her book, Everyday Theology, here. Connect with Mary at www.marycwiley.com or @marycwiley on social media.