I Am Here

     “Oh that life was like it used to be, like the days when God watched over me; when his lamp shone on my head, I walked by his light in the dark” (Job 29:1-3, CEB). Job’s words echo how many people are feeling these days. The Covid-19 pandemic has left a lot of folks wondering if, like Elvis, God has left the building. I understand their lament.
Difficult circumstances can cast a shadow over the human heart and obscure one’s ability to perceive God’s presence.
 
     A friend of mine has been informed that his father soon will be placed in a memory care unit. The family has been informed that they cannot accompany this man into the building when he is admitted. Nor will the family be permitted visitation privileges once their patriarch has taken residence. Many families within our community are facing similar heartrending challenges. It’s in times such as these that we are tempted with the prophets of old to inquire, “How long, O Lord? How long will you remain apart from us?”
 
     However, the answer to this question may be staring us in the face. For example, when Job tacitly lamented his belief that God had abandoned him, Job also recounted how God had not forsaken him when traveling through previous periods of darkness. “When God watched over me,” Job declared, “I walked by his light in the dark.” Translation: God was with me even in the moments when I was blinded to the reality of His presence.
 
     There’s an old Native American custom as to how a young boy transitions into manhood. The boy is sent into the wilderness for the duration of the night. He is given no weapons to defend himself or materials to make fire. For hours, the child endures threatening sounds that he cannot see. However, as the night eventually becomes dawn, the child turns and recognizes the face of his father, who had been close at hand and silently standing guard over his son.
 
     Friends, Jesus declared that he is the great “I am,” which in Hebrew, translates to mean, “I am here.” Yes, even amidst the shroud of a global pandemic, Jesus is upholding his promise to remain vigilant. The Good News is Jesus is still the building.