As a conversation starter in one of our life group meetings a while back, someone asked us all to shared our "highs and lows" of the week. What was a highlight? What was the hardest part? It was a great way to get us talking about our daily lives and what we've experienced during the week. I find myself using that as a conversation starter often, especially at the dinner table with the kids to talk about their day. After all, our spiritual formation isn't just what happens at church or in a Bible study, but what happens in all those moments along the way.
Psalm 139 captures that sense of God being with us in the highs and lows of our lives. Verses 7-10 say,
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."
I don't know about you, but I find the highs and lows are closely intertwined in my life. Joy and suffering are not on opposite sides of a spectrum, but rather things I can experience simultaneously. I could have a hard phone call, then still have a night of fun with the kids. I can celebrate the joy of a baptism or a profession of faith in church, while praying in the back of my mind for someone who is very sick. I can officiate a wedding while knowing there are marriages in crisis or those who wish they could be married. Obviously the life of the church can see highs and lows at the same time. We rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
To best rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, I think it's absolutely necessary to know the beauty of the presence of God in all the highs and the lows. God's Spirit never leaves us. On the mountaintops and the darkest valleys, He is there with us. In our moments of despair and temptation, he is there with us. In the times we feel strong and able to do what is right, he is there with us. In our pain, he is there. When we feel full of vigor and life, he is there. God is never overwhelmed by our suffering, absent in our doubts, nor distracted in our joy. He is fully present with us, rejoicing with our joy, grieving with our sorrow, no matter what. We might always feel it or believe it, but make no mistake; God never leaves us or abandons us.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and remain with you through all the highs and lows of this coming month.