Where To Find God

By Rev. Gwen Bernstine serves as pastor of Lycoming Presbyterian Church in the Newberry section of Williamsport

You have probably had your share of news today after perusing the newspaper. It often seems that most of our news is bad. Sometimes we get overwhelmed and wonder what is happening to our world. Where is God in the midst of the violence, disasters, tragedies, and accidents?

I have heard people ask what kind of God would allow such horrible things to happen. Others cry out in pain, asking what they did to deserve the catastrophe that has befallen them.

When we or those we care about are in trouble, we can desire a free pass to not assume any responsibility for our situation or to get out of our troubles safely. God does not give any of us a perfect life, free from human mistakes, accidents, or disasters.

We are, however, blessed to worship the God who created the heavens and the earth. This is the same God whose steadfast love and care we depend upon throughout all our days.

The 23rd Psalm speaks to God’s steadfast love for us. The first verses tell of God’s availability saying, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake” (NRSVue).

We are assured of God’s availability in good times and bad. David, the psalmist, continues: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

We are assured of God’s love all the days of our life as the psalm continues. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.” The last verse of Psalm 121 makes it clear that “the Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.”

In the beginning, when the first people found God, they were in Eden. During the journey of God’s people, God was found in a burning bush and heard from the mountain tops. God led the Israelites in a cloud and sometimes dwelled in a tabernacle. We find God at church, on a walk in the park, as we talk to neighbors, and as we sit on our favorite chair.

Jesus showed us that God’s dwelling place is everywhere: everywhere throughout creation! It is within, beside, before, and following behind each of God’s beloved children. Yes, even you today! When we understand this, then the words of Psalm 84 bring even more joy to our hearts: “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.”

No matter who you are or where you are in life’s journey (as the United Church of Christ folk are fond of saying) God loves you and is always near!