There’s no good day for a funeral, but this one was especially bad. An hours-long downpour had swamped the streets. I wondered how many people would be able to get to the church for Emily’s family.
Her father had died suddenly – one of those moments that suck the life out of you and turn your world upside-down. Her family needed support. And now, rain was coming down in buckets, resulting in road closings.
I arrived at the church and was heartened to see a full parking lot. People scurried inside with umbrellas as shields, determined to comfort Emily and her family.
I’m right here for you, they wanted to say. And nothing was going to stop them.
Inside the church was a long line of people waiting give their love to the family. A friend from my church was with me.
When we reached Emily, I hugged her, held her tightly for a few seconds, and reminded her that we’re all here for her and will help her get through it. She said thanks and blinked back a tear.
My friend then hugged her, held her tightly for a few seconds, and said something humorous. Emily laughed out loud – which was exactly what she needed in that emotional moment.
She got the message: I’m right here for you, in the hug and the reassurance and yes, also in the laugh that you need to get through it. I’m right here.
Where have we heard this before?
I’m right here
The heart of Jesus’ message is that God is always right here, working through us, with us and in us to bring love, compassion and healing into the world.
God isn’t the old, white guy with grim face who lives somewhere in the sky and must be begged for what we need. No. Instead, God is right here, living in us, with us and through us. And when we lose sight of God, that’s where we need to look.
Seek, and you will find. But you have to look in the right place.
Often, I lose sight. My most-asked question for God is: Where are you? I have trouble recognizing God in situations.
While my pot of coffee is brewing in the morning, I get on my news apps and catch up on the world’s happenings. Often, there’s so much craziness that I say to God: Where are you in all of this?
It’s easy to lose the sense of God’s presence during the ordinariness of each day: the avalanche of emails, the challenges of dealing with different personalities, the setbacks and the time wasted getting simple things accomplished.
Where are you in all of that?
Then there are the big moments. Someone dies. A job ends. A child struggles. A medical test comes back positive. A parent seems to be slipping away. A relationship is ruptured.
Where are you?
Through us, with us, in us
It’s comforting to me that Jesus – this person who deeply experienced God’s presence — felt the same way. There’s the passage in two of the gospels where he’s dying and says to God: I feel like you’ve abandoned me. Where are you right now?
And at that moment, there are people who have risked their lives to be with him until the end. He gets his answer in their love and their courage.
I’m right here with you. You are never alone.
When we lose sight of God’s presence, it’s good to remember where to look. We find God right here in the people who parent us, who mentor us, who love us, who nurture us, who challenge us.
Sure, those people do all those things imperfectly, but that’s OK. Imperfection never diminishes the divine presence. The answer is still the same.
I’m right here, giving you what you need. Always.
I’m right here in the warm hand that holds yours when you feel alone, in the arms that enfold you when you need a hug, in the voice that reminds you of your purpose and your calling when you feel confused.
I’m right here in the people trying to make peace amid all the conflict, in the people trying to heal all the hurt, in the people serving the least while those with the most try to get more.
I’m right here in those who treat everyone as an equally beloved and beautiful child of God, reminding them of their infinite worth.
I’m right here. Always.
When we recognize God that way, we see ourselves differently, too. We understand that every encounter is a chance for us to bring God’s loving, compassionate, and healing presence into the world a little more fully.
When someone feels they’ve lost sight of God, they encounter us and come away saying: Oh, there you are!