I think that God in greatly anguished by the lack of His presence in the life of people who are suffering. The reason for His anguish I believe is simple, he has set up this world in a manner where His presence is supposed to be self-evident. He has established the Church (the body of Christ) to be His manifest presence in the world today.
It has been my personal experience that many people today, when they hear of someone who is struggling; their pat reply is to say I will pray for them, which by itself is not wrong. It becomes wrong (in my eyes) when they have an opportunity to pray with them in person and choose instead to pray for them from a distance. What this tells me is that people of God are making a conscious decision to withhold God’s presence from people in need. We pray for them, that they will know God’s presence as they go through their struggle, yet by not praying with them or at the very least being with them, we deny them an opportunity to be in His presence (if indeed we believe that His spirit dwells in us and with us).
I for one struggle with this, it seems as though people (not all, but some) in the church have relinquished this role of being presence to paid clergy. We think it is acceptable to not visit the sick or those who are struggling because that is the pastor’s job. I believe that this it is totally unacceptable and I also believe that it is sin (look at Matthew 25:31-46).
With those things being said though I don’t really want to cast blame, I just want to right a wrong; I believe it is wrong for the people of God not to be a presence to people in need. I believe that it is wrong for people to pray for someone when they have the means to pray with them. I believe it is wrong to be absent when we have the means to be presence. By presence I don’t mean that we need to come up with magical words to say, I mean all we have to do is just be there, it is by just being there that we bring God’s presence. A gentle hug, a simple glance, the touch of a hand means more than you will ever know, your very presence says you care, your presence says God is there…
I am writing this to help myself overcome a personal experience that I had with the absence of God recently (not that he wasn’t there), but in the midst of a time of unfathomable pain as my 28 year old son suffered a stroke and my family sat at the hospital devastated by the news and no one from the Church showed up to pray with us, God’s presence was absence when we needed presence.
*I don’t know whether or not I am mad or bitter, but I do know that for awhile afterward I was extremely hurt, the wound has began to heal but has a long way to go, my son is striving to recover, with God’s help, we know that he will.
I just don’t want anyone else to have to experience, what we went through…
*I thought I had peace with this, but I am still struggling …
Pastor Gary Lynch
*To those who may have already read this, the italicized words are edits from my original post on 6/5/12, the words here are more reflective of how I feel. I guess I was trying to soften the blow for others but realized for the sake of my own healing that I needed to speak more to the reality of how things actually are.