I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you. (NLT)
On my first trip outside of Australia, I was understandably a little nervous about encountering a world I did not know and doing so alone knowing no-one in that world. I had to remind myself that while I left my native country I had not left my God. My God is not some local tribal deity. He is not confined to one country. He cannot be ‘left behind’.
This Psalm reminds us that God is present with us in all circumstances. No darkness is too dark for him, no sorrow too bleak for him, no joy too incomprehensible to him. He doesn’t take holidays or leave automated messages for us when we pray. He is always there and always on the job.
Of course we may not feel he is there. Many of us testify to feeling God is absent, that he has turned his back on us or become indifferent to us. Given our human frailty such feelings can be expected. And yet these feelings do not mean they reflect the truth of the matter. The fact that I may feel God is not there does not mean he is actually absent. I have to go back to Scriptures like this to assure myself of the truth.
The bedrock reality of life with God is not that we may never feel abandoned, but that we will never in fact be abandoned.