In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. We’ve previously learnt that Christians can have assurance that they are saved by the testimony of the Holy Spirit but can also lack such assurance. But are Christians ever left without God’s abiding presence?
The Bible teaches us that Christians are never left without the support of the Spirit of God and so they are always kept from sinking into utter despair.
Psalm 73 speaks about Asaph’s struggles and pain, but Asaph also speaks of how God was always supporting him:
21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.’
God also says through the prophet Isaiah that he always supports his people, even if he is angry with them for their sin:
‘7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
8 In a surge of anger
I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,”
says the LORD your Redeemer.
9 “To me this is like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
never to rebuke you again.
10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the LORD, who has compassion on you’
Moses also reminded God’s people that God would not abandon them: ‘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).
Therefore, even in times of distress and great pain, Christians have reason to hope.
As much as it might feel that God has left, he has not. The LORD still dwells in his people by his Spirit and will never abandon them.
The Christian can say with Job: ‘Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him’ (Job 13:15).
Do you trust in God? Do you trust that he will never leave you? Does that truth keep you from despair?