When God Seems Distant: A Meditation on the Omnipresence of God

By Msgr. Charles Pope

September 11, 2011

We have all experienced times in our life when God seems distant, quite far from our heart and mind. Perhaps we been influenced in this experience by disappointment, loss, grief, depression or boredom. Praying seems hard, and God seems to hide his face.

Some years ago, I was given a prayer card of sorts; really more of a spiritual “bookmark” that said the following:

“How can I find God when he seems so far?”

“Ah, careful, the harder you look, the more distance you create between Him and you.”

“So what can I do about the distance?”

“Understand that it isn’t there.”

“Does that mean that God and I are one?”

“No, not one. Yet, not two.”

How is that possible?”

“The sun and its light,

the ocean and the wave,

the singer and his song

–not one….not two.”

One of the great mysteries and balances of theology is to grasp that God is transcendent and “other,” not to be equated with the sum total of his creation (pantheism). For he transcends, is above, beyond and greater than all he has made. And yet, he is also present to everything he has made and sustains every fiber of being in this universe, and every atom, molecule and cell of my being. He is closer to me than I am to myself.

Colossians 1:17 says of Jesus: All things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Yes, this world is created by the will and love of God and held together by him and in him.

A letter was addressed to one Jane Crofut by her minister in the Thornton Wilder play “Our Town” and the address went like this

Jane Crofut
The Crofut Farm
Grover’s Corners
Sutton County
New Hampshire
United States of America
Continent of North America
Western Hemisphere
The Earth
The Solar System
The Universe
The mind of God

Yes, we caught up in the heart and mind of God, and Christ holds all creation together in himself. We are the result of his love, and not just at our conception, at every moment, every beat of our heart, every thought of our mind, every movement of our body, every stirring of our soul, all sustained by him, and rooted in him as first cause.

He is not far, just feel the beating of your heart, the breeze on your cheek, the warmth of the sun, and behold the color purple behold those you love, even those you struggle to love. Even the thoughts we sometimes have that God seems distant would not be possible unless he were close, very close and sustaining every fiber of our being. He is closer to me than the sun is to its light, the ocean is to its wave, the singer is to his song. He is closer to me than I am to myself.

Where is God, when he seems so distant? Not far. Not far at all.