In When God Isn’t There, David Bowden explores the topic of God’s presence and absence in our lives. The author examines several different angles reminding readers that God’s presence and absence are both necessary and beneficial to us. Bowden first points out that God, by His nature, is ever present and we need not doubt that He is always here. However, in the midst of our most daunting trials and tribulations, God may seem absent so we begin to question not so much His existence but His love. To answer this question, Bowden uses biblical examples such as Abraham, Moses, Job, and Jonah to illustrate how in His absence, we actually experience more of His nearness due to His grace and mercy. For example, Bowden explains how God’s act in imprisoning Jonah in a big fish’s stomach seemed to display His judgement and absence. However, it is through this divine act that Jonah was brought to repentance and greater knowledge of God. In the same way, the author suggests that we may sometimes feel abandoned by God but only find out afterwards that the tribulations were necessary for us to know more of who God is. Bowden also acknowledges that there are limits to what we can experience of God now in our frail, sinful bodies as seen in the tabernacle and temple which separated sinful humans from God. Thus, during times when we stray from Him, we are recipients of God’s grace when we are not exposed to God’s holiness in full force. In His love, God has provided for us through Christ who is ultimate expression of presence as God become man to wash away our sins and clothe us with His righteousness. Moreover, those who put their faith in Christ have the Spirit’s presence in their hearts as evidence of the present and future reality of unceasing presence with God.
I would gladly recommend this book to those who struggle to see how God is present even in life’s darkest nights. Bowden helpfully analyzes several different perspectives in discussing how God’s presence and absence are evidences of God’s love and care. Although we may long to always experience His presence in tangible ways, the author reminds us that He withdraws Himself for our benefit. In addition, we cannot fully experience the complete presence of God until Christ returns where all things will be made new and we can finally see Him face to face with our resurrected bodies. Until then, we must embrace periods of absence knowing that God is never too far off from us due to His abundant grace, love, and mercy.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I was provided a review copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers.