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Paul expressed a desire to be “with Christ” (Phil. 1:23), though no doubt he knew and believed Jesus’s promise to be with us always. Paul is eager for the time when his experience of the presence of Christ will be unclouded by the limits of his time-bound existence. And this is the challenge for the believer this side of eternity: we cannot trust our perception of God’s closeness to be accurate. God is near whether we feel him to be or not. How mindful we are of this truth will directly affect the way we live.

When our hearts deceive us with the lie that God is distant, when we begin to wonder if our sorrows are unseen or our sins are disqualifying, we can cling to the assurance of Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (ESV). The “with me” of God does not depend on our worthiness but his will. He wills that his chosen children will never be left alone.

His certain presence is not merely a comfort in sorrow or distress, it is a comfort in the mundane and the joyful as well. He does not need to greet you in the morning with, “How did you sleep?” or in the evening with, “How was your day?” He has been with you for all of it.

Jen Wilkin is a speaker, writer, teacher of women’s Bible studies, and book author, including None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing). Content taken from None Like Him by Jen Wilkin, ©2016. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, Scripture quotations within the text of each devotion marked “ESV” come from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.