And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
— Revelation 21:3
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
— Hebrews 13:5
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
— John 1:14
A friend of mine had just returned from a long stay in the hospital with her son. As she spoke about her experience, she recalled all the ways she had been loved well by others through cards, prayers, flowers, and meals. But as I listened, I noticed she spent the most time reminiscing over the friend who had come to the hospital to sit with her. At that moment, I regretted that I hadn’t taken the time to sit with her, too.
Looking back, I realized I was afraid of imposing, or saying the wrong thing and making her situation worse rather than better. I allowed myself to be paralyzed by fear of making a mistake, so I did nothing. Thinking about this interaction made me wonder if, when we encounter the needs of others, offering God’s love isn’t necessarily about finding the perfect gift or Bible verse. Rather, could it be that people simply need our presence?
In both the Old and the New Testaments, God models the ministry of presence. From the very beginning, God said, “Behold, I am with you” (Genesis 28:15). From His presence in the tabernacle, to His presence in the cloud, to His presence in the burning bush, we see evidence of God stepping into the realm of the human experience to minister to the needs of His people.
In Jesus, God’s love became physically present. The Word literally became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). His very name, “Immanuel” means God with us. When we think about how we can be present in the lives of others, we need to look no further than the life of Jesus. He showed up to eat meals in homes, to bring peace in the midst of storms, to celebrate weddings, and to mourn side by side with friends.
Knowing our need for His presence, after Jesus left earth, He sent us the Holy Spirit. Presence can be our ministry because He is present in us. Spending time in God’s presence allows our presence to be the gift He intends it to be. All we have to do is show up—no special skill or talent required.
One day, the presence of God will be even more intimate and precious than we have already experienced. This hope of eternity in God’s presence is the greatest comfort imaginable. I long for this kind of nearness to God, but until then, we can share His presence with each other in our daily lives.
Who needs the gift of your presence? In what ways could the ministry of presence be your offering?
Lord, thank You for being present for me and for Your presence within me. Help me to follow Your example to be present in the lives of other people. Give me the strength to bear their burdens, weep when they weep, and rejoice when they rejoice until the day we can all be in Your presence eternally. Amen.
Talk It Over:
Share about a time when someone’s presence made a difference for you. Discuss steps you can take to become more present in the lives of others.
Thank you to Rachael Adams for providing this reading plan.