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Is God Present or Is He Absent?

Updated on March 8, 2010

A Quote from Henri Nouwen

 “Maybe we can say that in the center of our sadness for His absence we can find the first signs of His presence. And that in the middle of our longings we discover the footprints of the one who has created them. It is in the faithful waiting for the loved one that we know how much He has filled our life already. Just as lovers can rediscover each other during long periods of absence, so also our intimate relationship with God can become deeper and more mature while we wait patiently in expectation for His return.” (pg 61, Henri Nouwen, “Out of Solitude”)

In the Beginning God created...
In the Beginning God created...

I don’t often think of God as creating my longings. But He has. He created all of me. But it is in the abuse/misuse/tyranny of these same longings of our sin riddled, depraved souls that the longings become lust and result in treacherous captivity! It is when I allow my soul to take the God-given longing and turn it to lust, to control and manipulate that sin ensues.



Longing for food to sustain my body is not wrong. God created hunger so we would eat and receive nourishment our bodies would need to grow and sustain itself. However, it is when food becomes the end that hunger turns into lust and gluttony. Hunger then becomes selfishness and is about the eating, the taste, the want rather than the need.

I believe it is for this reason, in our culture, that we eat according to what “tastes” good rather than what we need.

Cheesecake over cauliflower.

Butterhorns over broccoli.

Cake over carrots.

We assuage our lust and selfishness.

A Multitude of Cookies

One or Ten?
One or Ten?

But…it isn’t only with food; this lack translates into many areas of life. I take the natural, good longings created in me by God and through selfishness turn them into tyrannical lust! There is nothing wrong with having “a” cookie; God gave us the skill of baking for our enjoyment as well as sustenance, but there is something wrong with having “ten” cookies at one sitting. There is nothing wrong with eating a handful of grapes but there is when we inhale a kilo of grapes. Again it is not so much the “how many” as the why. Why do I need ten cookies instead of two; six handfuls instead of one? The godly given enjoyment is lost when it becomes wanton desire.


Hiding in the Haycocks (1881) by WIlliam Bliss Baker

Your lust will find you
Your lust will find you

But something else happens as well…I become scared of it --- it turns into fear! Instead of applying godly authority to my longings ---I run and try to hide out of fear. All I do is exasperate the problem. Exile the longing in the quest of avoiding the lust! I haven’t confronted the issue, the lust is still there but the sense of if I starve it to death it will go away and then I won’t have to do anything is deadly. It may work for a season…but one slip…and lust is master once more. Just ask the smokers, or the coffee drinkers, or the alcoholics.


Now there are some longings turned lust which must be banished forever. Alcoholism is one. God gave wine for enjoyment but once the root has gone sour it is best to banish the root and no longer feed it, its addiction. There is much that can be put in this category.




adultery…and so on, the list goes on.

The Golden Calf
The Golden Calf

Unfortunately because of our depraved nature man is prone to addictions. Not just the ones listed above but food, TV, books, hobbies, exercise, coke, coffee, -- we all deal with our own addiction of choice. Our “comfort” foods, our “comfort” actions – that which I turn to for “comfort,” “strengthening”, “help,” aside from God alone. I may not have “idols” as they did in the Old Testament times or in other countries today, nevertheless, I yet have idols in the form of my passions gone amuck, my addictions, my escapes etc.


He got up and went out to a deserted place
He got up and went out to a deserted place

However, in solitude, alone with the One who created the original longing, I can find true comfort, true strength, and true help in Him alone; resulting in the return of glorifying, God-honoring, godly longing.

Godly longing will always naturally turn us back to its creator – God Almighty!

© 2010 UlrikeGrace


This article from a fellow hubber, Ken R. Abell may also give you much needed insight an encouragement

Money, Faith & A Satisfied Mind


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    • UlrikeGrace profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      thank you all for your many kind words and comments...

      we have been so de-sensitized in this age that we "deserve" all that we hunger where does anyone, except God, instruct us to be careful and investigate that hunger and where it will lead to...In Proverbs 5 (and many other places in the Word)...the writer warns us that "For the lips of a loose woman (nasb & niv translates as adulterous)drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormword, sharp as a two-edged sword, her feet go down to death..." (vs 3-5). We have to be on guard and we cannot always trust our very own hearts as it is decietful above all things.

      Ken, your welcome...your hub was a perfect Amen to this Hub.

      Pamela, praise God for Godly-longing...It's His way to keep drawing us to Him...

      Parrster, Amen...just like your protagonist in Terror's is worth fighting for what is Godly and good...many people fight for what they think is good, but it is not necessarily Godly.

      Saintatlarge, there is no fuller joy, no fuller passion than to be filled with the joy and passion of Jesus...I can think of no other endeavour worth the energy and time this requires. And it's amazing to think that the Lord is on the other end of that connection desiring the same thing with us!

      How true, coffeesnob...and we don't realize many are there of us in the Believers world never mind the secular world...Satan's blinders need to be removed...and I know just the person with the power to do that!!! Amen...thank you Holy Spirit. is a delight to see you here...the deception is huge isn't it...but where sin abounds, grace much more abounds and more than anything Jesus wants to see us free and praising our Father God.

      Thanks all for taking the time to stop in and comments...I appreciate it so are all a great encouragement to me...

      Blessings to you


    • jesusmyjoy profile image

      Betty Bolden 

      8 years ago from Bucyrus Ohio

      our own eyes can be deceiving, yes we can want things or desire things that are not from God..thank you for this my friend.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Sometimes we misinterpret the emptiness of our soul for an empty stomach and our longing which is really for God turns to longing for more and more food. Jesus is our fulfillment at every turn of life. Thanks for such a thought-provoking hub

    • Saintatlarge profile image

      Saint Lawrence 

      8 years ago from Canada

      UG your passion for your lover comes through strongly in your writing. Many of us have a hard time getting our passions into the proper balance and then we condemn passion at all levels. Life is to be lived and filled with joy, as God has supplied and given an extravagant love to us.

      Getting alone with him and telling him of our love and sharing our hearts, this is true worship.

      Love your heart... and thank you for mentioning my hub and link. Blessings L.

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 

      8 years ago from Australia

      One of the great things about social networks is that we read into others lives and thoughts and realise how similar we all are in so many ways. This article reminded me that the Christian walk is, as the bible says, a battle... but the only one truly worth fighting.

      Thank you.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Very excellent hub. God gave us free will so we all have problems and battles. As you said Godly longing will turn us back to our creator. Very good.

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Excellent!!! You hit it exactly right. This passage spoke loudly because it is true:

      "Unfortunately because of our depraved nature man is prone to addictions. Not just the ones listed above but food, TV, books, hobbies, exercise, coke, coffee, -- we all deal with our own addiction of choice."

      Thank you for this. And for the link to my Hub. That was very kind & much appreciated.

    • UlrikeGrace profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      rls4immanuel, Yes, if only we could fully realize how important it is to find that place of solitude with God. It is the place Ps 91 talks about, under the shadow of His wing...

      Thanks so much rls for your encouragement, and for the good comments. You have blessed both myself and others.

      Blessings to you


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Back to the place of solitude to find God's truth and power to put that truth into action! For most of us solitude is a scary place. No wonder Satan works so hard to keep us busy and away from sweet, holy communion with our God. How much do we need it when even the Son of God while on earth as a man went to the place of solitude to commune with His Father. Thank you so much Ulrike Grace. May God bless your writing ministry abundantly for His glory.

    • UlrikeGrace profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      Ah Magdalene I love you...yes we tend to rush forward and grab what "looks" enticing and exciting, not taking thought that the exciting rottweiler has teeth!!!

      God is merciful and He does walk with us through the valley of death...and what does Ps. 23 continue to say...vs.6 "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." Even in the valley od death, goodness and mercy follows us in and doesn't leave us to walk that portion of the journey alone. God is truly always with us. And His strength to allow us to make the right choices. It's His strength not ours, it's His faith not ours. See this hub...

      Another hubber wrote this just moments ago, and I found it very helpful.

      Blessings to you Magdalene, you are a special deliverence from God for me...

      Love UlrikeGrace

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Ahh how many times do I go to the chocolate before I would go to the carrot...I mean...c'mon!! LOl..CHOCOLATE!!!

      Same concecept of choosing the rabid, biting rottweiller over the nice, gentle border collie...I always seem to pick the chocolate cake and the rottweiller! i am glad however, that my Father has highlighted/pinpointed this, and, by His grace, mercy, love and incredible patience, He is walking through this valley of death with me!! Showing me WHY I choose not to come into His presence. Showing me that I am afraid, intimidated and that I do, still feel unworthy.

      Thank you Ulrike and Rev. Lady!!

      Nice chatting with you on the telly on Monday night Ulrike!! Hope u r having a Magnolia-ish kinda day!! YOU are the fragrance/aroma of our Christ!!

    • UlrikeGrace profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      RevLady...good morning and welcome to the day...yes, I am a fan of Nouwen as well...I often read his books/booklets over and over again...

      Yes thanks for pointing that out, God is with us all the time...yet do I turn to Him, and in His authority take back control from lust or do I run and hide from my lust...and from its usurping power? I think sometimes I can deliberately blind myself to the truth of what's really going on becasue I don't want to face it, and then I bring distance between myself and my only help and comfort. Even keeping busy doing good work for the Lord will do this. Thanks for your comments RevLady, its important that we keep each other in the faith, thinking about what we write and or think for it comes out in our actions eventually.

      Bless you


    • RevLady profile image


      8 years ago from Lantana, Florida

      No better way to start your hub than with Henri Nouwen who was an elegant spiritual writer and to read his work is to encounter a rare gift of sensitivity to the human condition. As you probably guessed, I am a Nouwen fan.

      I agree with all your have laid before us. Though I believe God is always present with us, we are not always feeling worthy of that presence and therefore distance ourselves. And then, "Godly longing will always naturally turn us back to its creator – God Almighty!" AMEN!

      UlrikeGrace, thank you for this wonderful reflective meditation hub.

      Forever His,


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