The reality of God’s presence when storms of life are raging

Students Letarshia and Eric Robinson explore Denver during the APCE conference.


M.A.C.E. student Letarshia Robinson shares her reflections on attending the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE) 2017 Annual Event in Denver, Colorado.

The theme of this year’s APCE conference was “God with us in the chaos.” In their plenaries, Nadia Bolz Weber and Dr. Larron Jackson offered encouragement to those of us who are in and preparing for ministry, reminding us of God’s presence in the chaos of ministry, in the chaos of life.

We believe that God’s presence through the storms of life is a reality; a gracious gift from a loving God to God’s people. But there is something which gnaws at my soul, and indeed gnaws at each of us. Why is it so easy to forget the loving reality of God’s presence when the storms of life are raging? I am reminded of the great hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” and the line “prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.”

Wandering is part of our Christian reality, one which we would ever soon forget! Especially when trials come, we may feel that emotions of sadness, anxiety, or stress indicate a lack of God’s presence, and because we feel a lack of God’s presence, our hearts begin to wander, assuming God is not there, stuck in the deep abyss of pain, shame, and self-pity.

This is the deceptive nature of sin.  It blinds our eyes to the true reality of God’s presence and pushes us deeper into ourselves. And the deeper we push into ourselves, the more shame we feel about re-emerging into God’s presence. In her plenary as a keynote speaker at APCE, Nadia Bolz Weber spoke about the nature of sin and shame, and how we allow shame to block us from embracing God’s presence and ever-present forgiveness. Nadia reminded us that God wants to forgive and restore.

When the storms of life are raging, let us not allow the human emotions of sadness, anxiety, or stress lead us into shame and hiding from God, but rather let us embrace God’s loving presence, which is ever-present in the storms of life, ever-present in the chaos. As Dr. Larron Jackson reminded us in his plenary, “human beings do human things, yet God loves them.”

God, help us to see the reality of your presence in the midst of life’s storms, and to allow ourselves to be embraced by your loving care.