We’ve all seen this a million times before, right? Is the glass half empty or half full? We’ve all been asked the question: Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
This sentiment has been on my mind the last 24 hours. My wife is currently on a hospital bed recovering from a hysterectomy. The procedure went well, but there was a complication post-surgery that required her to once again be put under in order for it to be resolved.
Our friends and family provided their prayers, support, and well wishes, but my focus was fixed on praise. Yes, I did start the day asking the Holy Spirit to be with the surgical team, and to release Lee from any anxiety leading up to the procedure. But for the most part, I was zeroed-in on the praise.
And this is new to me. I am normally one to come at prayer from a, “God, you know I don’t ask for much, but I really need X,Y, and Z from you right now” angle. It’s as if I am cashing in some goodwill prayer chip I earned by not asking for anything in the last week or month. I think God gets a kick out of our feeble attempt to apply finite, human sensibilities to his infinite awesomeness. I also think He feels a little sad we can’t seem, for the most part, to get prayer right.
In his book Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, author Wayne Grudem defines God’s omnipresence as follows: “God does not have size or spatial dimensions and is present at every point of space with His whole being, yet God acts differently in different places.” Grudem goes on to explain God can be present to punish, to sustain, or to bless. He continues:
The idea of God’s omnipresence has sometimes troubled people who wonder how God can be present, for example, in hell. In fact, isn’t hell the opposite of God’s presence, or the absence of God? This difficulty can be resolved by realizing that God is present in different ways in different places, or that God acts differently in different places in creation. Sometimes God is present to punish.
Grudem goes on to reference Amos 9:1-4 as a scriptural example of God presence in hell. In reading through this, my mind was blown. I was fascinated by a thought process I’d never before considered. I’ve always believed in the omnipresence of God, but I never applied it to the confines of hell.
Then I thought about the other functions God performs; blessing and sustaining. I thought about how He provides for me, keeps my world together – both literally and figuratively – and pours His blessings on me daily. I am blessed to live in a first world country with modern medicine and state of the art medical facilities. I am blessed to have health insurance through my employer. I am blessed to have the resources that allow for my wife to experience physical betterment through surgery. Blessing upon blessing upon blessing, by a God who is, has been, and always be there for me, with me, and in me.
There is no where I can go that God is not present. Even in what we perceive to be empty, He is there. Even in the darkness, He is there. Even in the lowest and the loneliest moments of our lives, He is there.
So yay God for that reality, and praise Him for His faithfulness and steadfastness towards us. It’s perfectly fine to ask God for help and to present our requests to Him, but we should be sure to first honor Him in praise and thanksgiving.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6 NIV