On one of those blah January days, I left church and ran smack dab into a close friend. We screamed and hugged because months had passed since we saw each other in person. She shared with me what her months leading up to January had been like. During our conversation, we ran into another friend, falling into more screams, laughs, and giggles. After a few minutes, we all joined hands and prayed; the noisy buzz of the church crowd fading. I can’t remember the exact words my friends prayed over me, but I do remember their hands squeezing mine. The hope I walked away with.
I recently heard a sermon from Sarah Jakes Roberts. She was talking about the moments that mark us. The big ones that pull us closer to God. You get the job or the promotion. Your loved one is healed. Your mental health gets better after a long season. You finally buy the house. You get married. You have the baby. The miracle moment. The clear evidence of God’s hand in your life, as if he was coming down to earth himself to say, “See, I’ve been listening to you all along.” After one of those big moments, it’s easy to move onto the next thing. To the next unanswered prayer. What hasn’t God answered on my long to do list? What situation is still the same in my life? But did you miss it already? Did you already go searching for the next thing? The next void to fill? As Sarah said, she didn’t want to miss it. Instead, each day she was going to search for God.
Once you start searching for God, trust me, you’ll find him. I found him on that day as my friends surrounded me in prayer. Sometimes you don’t need a miracle moment to feel God’s presence. I found God again, on another random weekday, when my mom and I sung along to Smokey Robinson in the living room. At a Saturday ballet class after a hard week, the music humming. During a bookstore run on a Tuesday evening, flipping through the pages of a book, dreaming about my own novel and listening to my friend talk about her week.
It’s also easy to search for other things that don’t you fill with you the hope God brings. Regrets about the past. Anxiety about the future. Comparing your life to someone else’s. The bigger unexpected problems that capture your attention: that phone call you didn’t see coming, a loved one gets sick or passes away, a breakup, job loss, miscarriage, divorce, or a financial issue.
I haven’t walked through all the problems listed above, but I know what it feels like to walk through a heavy season, where all the days feel like January and God appears far away. Maybe, even the thought of searching for God makes you want to roll your eyes. Or even ask the question, could he be here in this pain too?
The thing is even when we don’t want to search for God. He’s always searching for us. In Psalms, it promises ”If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.“
We can run all we want, but God always find us. He’s waiting to bring comfort, hope, and the light that doesn’t even compare to the temporary comforts we search for on the dark, heavy days. Will you receive it?
No matter what happens this year, I want to keep searching for God. Finding him on the couch with my friends, as we watch movies and spend time that we won’t ever get back. Finding him in the prayers spoken over me. Finding him in the people God has given me to weather the highs and lows of life. Finding him in the prayers he answered and the dreams still to come. I know you’ll find him this year if you keep looking.