The Presence of God: Comfort or Discomfort?
John Telgren


Jesus spends 40 days in the wilderness alone with Satan tempting him. There was no one else there. But he was not alone.

"Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness Luke 4:1)."

The Spirit was there the whole time, leading him around in the wilderness. Notice it wasn't Satan leading Jesus, but the Spirit. The Spirit was a real presence in his life after he was baptized. In fact, the next episode in Luke begins like this,

"And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spiritů (Luke 4:14)."

The Spirit empowered Jesus. It was in the power of the Spirit that Jesus began preaching. It was in the power of the Spirit that he performed signs. It was in the power of the Spirit that Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness overcoming the temptations of Satan.

So, Jesus was not truly alone. This is a great encouragement for us. Peter said that the promise of the Spirit is "for you, and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to himself (Acts 2:39)."

The Spirit is a real presence in the lives of us Christians as well (1 Cor 6:19, 2 Tim 1:14). Every day, every hour, every minute, every second, he is a presence in our lives. We need to be reminded of his presence in order to be sensitive to his direction in our lives so that we do not grieve the Spirit (Eph 4:30).

We need to pray the words of the Psalmist who wrote,

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way (Psalm 139:23-24)."

We need to ask that God search our innermost thoughts. At first this may seem like an unpleasant prospect. The unpleasantness may stem more from pride than anything else. When faced with our faults, pride makes us either hide them, or beat ourselves up because of them. Humility welcomes God searching the depths of our mind and heart. There is no cause for continuous mourning, self flagellation, or beating ourselves up in guilt. In the absence of pride, the thought of God searching our hearts becomes a comfort. Instead of wounded pride and the accompanying guilt, there is humility with the accompanying joy. Humility moves us to accept that we are weak, reject the illusion of power, and rely on the loving power of God. Humility brings us to the joy of peace.

Some people speak of "practicing the presence of God." That is what Jesus did as he walked by the Spirit in the wilderness. That is what Paul instructs us to do when he writes, "Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh (Gal 5:16)." We need to be aware that God is a constant presence in our lives so we can be what he wants, go where he leads, and do what he wills.