Jesus never left

Recently, I was asked to give a testimony about a time when I went through a difficult season and how Jesus showed up. Right away I started considering times in my life when “Jesus showed up.” Many struggles in life came to mind, some major, some minor. I kept thinking about a great idea for a “grace testimony.”

The problem for me in my consideration of the topic? A verse kept coming to mind: “‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV).

The context of this verse is the transition of Israel’s leadership from Moses to Joshua, and the final leg of their journey into the Promised Land. Moses is giving instruction and caution to Joshua and the people.

In verse 8 he says, “‘The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged’” (ESV).

As I considered all the difficulties in my life (and we all have them), more and more I became convinced of this: Jesus never left.

He was always there. I may have felt abandoned, but if I am looking at things through a Biblical worldview, who left? Me.

I sinned and fell short, bringing consequences into my own life. Romans 3:23 and 6:23 confirm this.

I pushed away from the covenant fellowship of believers, the church, despite the counsel, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV).

(Note: Not belonging to or being engaged in covenant fellowship with a local church is inconsistent with Biblical Christianity. Just sayin’!)

In my struggles, I began leaning on my own understanding, trusting more in myself and my abilities and cleverness to overcome rather than reading and trusting in God’s Word and living a life surrendered to the sovereignty and the lordship of Christ.

But God’s Word says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV).

I began thinking in the temporal rather than the eternal. But a believer’s citizenship is in heaven, and from it they await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ ( see Philippians 3:20).

I began trusting in my own righteousness, not realizing I likely needed to repent of my self-righteousness (see Isaiah 64:6).

In my deepest, darkest struggles, my lowest and most broken seasons of life, God the Father remained omnipresent, Jesus never moved, the Holy Spirit was always within me.

The reason I can have confidence as a follower of Christ is because as the Scriptures foretold, Jesus did show up.

The angels declared, “‘For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given’” (Isaiah 9:6 ESV).

Jesus left the glory of heaven, came into this world, lived a perfect life, died a sinner’s death and bore the wrath of God that we all deserve. He rose from the grave, defeated death and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.

He showed up. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 ESV).

He showed up.

And for the redeemed, He never leaves us or forsakes us, all the way to heaven or Christ’s return. We can take great comfort in that.

In Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” there is a scene where the court jester calls the countess a fool. The jester is determined to prove it.

The jester asks, “You mourn the death of your brother?”

The countess responds, “Yes!”

The jester responds, “I think your brother is in hell.”

The countess replies, “You are wrong! I believe he is in heaven.”

The jester declares, “And yet, you mourn your brother. You are the fool!”

Even the court jester knew that we who are redeemed are set free from bondage to sin and the eternal consequences of sin. We have the hope of salvation, knowing the righteousness of Christ is given to each of us, providing a covering of righteousness over our sinful selves.

Jesus showed up, lived, died, rose from the grave, then sent us a helper, a comforter, one who convicts us of sin, an intercessor: the Holy Spirit.

Going through a rough time? Enduring persecution? Suffering a terrible loss? A hurt? A pain? A heartache?

Do not move.

Jesus is already there. He has not moved. He will never leave you or forsake you. He will guide you through, by the sufficiency of His Word and by the power of the Holy Spirit, all the way to heaven or His return.

To God be the glory!

Denny Dillman is the benevolence pastor at Southeast Christian Church’s Blankenbaker Campus.