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  • Writer's pictureDee Aspin

Presence of People in Perplexing Times

Silent, reassuring presence can be among the best gifts we ever give. David Augsburger writes, “It is so much easier to tell a person what to do with his problem than stand with him in his pain.”

So true—words, even the right words, can be quickly spoken. Presence takes time and uncertainty—responses are visible and dynamic.

Often when we are experiencing emotional or physical pain, the people we are closest to are tackling their own unsought dramas or busyness and cannot be present. Even before the current Covid crisis, connecting in person was not always easy. Zoom provides a limited alternative, but nothing substitutes presence.

Every life stage offers its own set of obstacles to meet together and find pause in life’s current. There are plenty of variables—married or single, with or without children, caregiving, aging parents, rotating schedules, a job commute, interruptions by children or grandchildren, injury or pain limitations—schedules can seem hemispheres apart.

We may talk at length on the phone only a limited time for simple conversations and brief prayers. We may spend a day together to unwind and realign, or there may only be enough time to meet for coffee or a walk. We may try for once a week, when even once a month presents a challenge. Living across town from each other can translate to hours of driving.

If we do not feel we have enough presence from family or friends, additional time often comes through strangers in serendipitous ways. We are surrounded by many saints—not just one special someone. The natural tendency is to expect time from those closest to us. It is wonderful when it works that way. However, spouses or our specials, may be spinning in their own arena. Avoid the temptation to pin any one person, family member or friend, as our choice Helper.

As God’s children, we depend on the Lord to stand with us. He is our Comforter. We reach out to our friends to share our lives and trials, and hope they also reach out to us. Reciprocal actions build relationships. However, we must realize expectations may disappoint us. God opens the window for connection as we remain flexible to give the time and support.

When David was a young adult in the desert, while hiding from an army of bullies, he prayed—Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge. I said to the Lord “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.” (Psalm 16:1-3 NIV)

Until hard times pass, which they will, and the bullies and the boxing rings have vanished like mountains in a sea of fog, we are to place exclusive trust in God! The Lord is my light and my salvation of whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1,2).

Children grow up and begin adulting—no longer protected from the harshness of life.

We, significant adults who protected them, now can assure them as we have experienced from our Good Shepherd - we are never alone to face the woes of the world when we feel vulnerable. We are a call or text away to pray—no matter how far apart… there is no distance in prayer.

We can assure them of our own convictions. Prayers can be felt and provide a presence- the Lord is with us, sees us and loves us...which brings peace. God can provide the strength and endurance to withstand situations, because His support and presence can be felt or acknowledged no matter how fragile we feel. Jesus told His disciples He must go away so we could have the presence of the Holy Spirit, Who indwells His people, providing core strength. Beyond our personal perimeters, Jesus intercedes from heaven, always, for our needs. (Hebrews 7:25)

When we reach for the presence of our Heavenly Helper in our solitude, we will receive the gift Jesus spoke of. The very real gift of Jesus standing with us through the Holy Spirit, our provision for love and comfort. We will experience a friendship with Jesus, His counsel and peace. (John 16:7)

He will enable us to endure. The hard times have limits, as sure as the tide maintains its highs and lows.

“Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; (my security and my joy) you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places… (Psalm 16:6 NIV)

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