As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Two terms which have forced themselves into our consciousness in the past couple of weeks are self-isolation and Social Distancing. It’s become common to see people crossing the road to avoid coming too close to others. Our supermarkets are laying down marks on the floor to show people how far they should stand from each other.
It’s hard when friends can’t come together. But the place where social distancing becomes most painful is within family life. When children can’t visit their grandparents’ for a hug, or most distressingly when spouses cannot visit each other, when one has been taken into a home or hospital because of their frailty. The separation of loved ones is difficult to accept.
In the 42nd Psalm we find the Psalmist in distress because he feels separation from God. Firstly, he’s far from Jerusalem and the Temple. As one of the sons of Korah he would lead the crowd in worship at the time of the great festivals. These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. (Ps. 42:4) But there’s more than missing the occasion here: As he listens to the water thundering over the rocks of the mountains of the north, he remembers God. He remembers how at one time he was close to Him, but now he feels so far away. He goes so far as to suspect that God has forgotten him: I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? (Ps. 42:9)
Maybe some feel this way in the midst of our present crisis. But when we turn to Jesus, we can remember that he was called Immanuel – God with us.
Our separation from our Creator is the consequence of our own wrongful betrayal of Him. A great chasm has been opened between us by our sin. Remember that Jesus came to span that chasm. He took upon Himself the consequences of our rebellion so that we would be reconciled with the Ruler of the universe. On the cross he faced the most extreme loneliness, crying out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk. 15:34) and in so doing ensured that we should never be forsaken by God.
Because of this, no mater how difficult or lonely our situation, we can come close to God, through faith, and know His peace and His presence.
Dafydd M. Job (Capel y Ffynnon, Bangor)