For this week’s Worship Wednesday, Liz shares with us how God taught her to seek the comfort of his presence in the ache of absence.
The Ache of Absence
My heart ached to be there.
As the days drug on, my arms longed to hold my sister and provide some sort of tangible support during what must have been an emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting time. I had no idea what I could do once I got there, I just knew I wanted to be there. Mentally, I arranged and rearranged my responsibilities like Tetris pieces in a vain attempt to make room for the six-ish hour drive to Maryland.
But it was still too long. Too far. Too much.
The Army stationed us closer to my family than we had been in a decade and a half when we moved to West Virginia. And I was thrilled to be less than half a day’s drive from family. But in this moment that was still further than was practical or possible. My 12-year-old nephew was in the hospital with complications following an emergency appendectomy and my sister hadn’t left his side in over a week. I could feel the tension and hear the unspoken turmoil in her texted words but all I could do was offer up what felt like feeble prayers.
When You Can’t Just Show Up
That week, everywhere I looked, I saw messages about the importance of just showing up. With every fiber of my being, I longed to stand by her side through this. And Satan used that to stir up deep-seated feelings of inadequacy…
If you really loved your sister you would go.
What kind of sister are you?
Is what you’re doing really that much more important than being there?
Prayers!? Psshhh… What good does that do her?
And the enemy reminded me of all the other moments I’ve missed with my family of origin because of military service. One aunt’s breast cancer treatment and another’s battle with COPD. Graduations, birthdays, holidays, and the backlash of my parent’s divorce. Surgeries, miscarriages, and the terror after the attacks of 9-11. Retirement ceremonies, baby showers, theatrical performances, and sporting events.
We may have signed up for service to our nation, but we could never have anticipated the cost to our families until we experienced the ache of absence.
Worship Soothes an Aching Soul
In that ache, I turned to worship music. I googled my feelings and found a playlist to soothe my hurting heart. I asked Alexa to play song after song and those melodies turned my worry to worship and my ache to awe. When deep, haunting notes of Plumb’s Need You Now drifted through the air, I felt God whisper to my soul as tears streamed down my face. Beauty and meaning and strength in spite of situations beyond my control. What my sister needed more than me in this moment, was God. He reminded me that he hears my cries and her’s for strength and replies with his presence and peace.
The God of the universe whose presence transcends space and time is far more capable of providing comfort than I will ever be. In our time of need what we need most is God. He is what we all desperately need. And he is always close to those in need, the brokenhearted, the lonely, the ones with failing strength, and those who cannot see a way through their circumstances.
So, wherever it is you wish you could be to lend a helping hand, do not discount the power of your prayers. God hears you and he is faithful to provide the presence we cannot.
In the ache of absence, God’s presence provides the comfort we can’t.
He is who we all need most.
I pray listening to Need You Now by Plumb will provide the comfort and peace your heart needs when the ache of absence threatens to overtake you.
by Liz Giertz