I suppose the question I’m really asking is, “Is God personal or impersonal?”
by Ben Steinhart
Ben is 18 and graduated this past spring from St. Louis University High School. He is a freshman at the University of Dayton majoring in mechanical engineering. His mother, Jamie Steinhart, is the retreat coordinator at Pallottine. Jamie recently shared her story about finding God in the midst of an accident Ben lived through in her blog post, Behind the Scenes. Ben’s blog grew out of a conversation he had with his mother.
When I think of my friends, I think of how lucky I am to have people in my life willing to go out of their way to cheer me up, make me laugh or share a good time with me. Friends are the people that have your back no matter what. Both in high school and now in college, I have had friends who can sense when I’m having a bad day, and they don’t ignore it. They ask me what is wrong, help me talk through problems, or buy me a sub sandwich when they know my bank account is running a little low.
Recently one of my own friends went through a tragic week when two of her best friends both lost their moms. What did her friends do? We were covering her walls with sticky notes and funny messages to cheer her up. It was our way to show her we cared.
Is God my friend?
Obviously I would like to think so, we all would. When I was little I thought God was always there for me, every step that I took. I used to see God everywhere; like when I was running late for school and I made three stoplights in a row or if I looked up and saw a beautiful sunset, I knew that was Him working in my life and showing me He was there.
Recently though I have struggled more and more with this question. As I get older things don’t seem so simple. I see friend’s parents who die or teenagers who get killed in car wrecks and I have to wonder.
I suppose the question I’m really asking is, “Is God personal or impersonal?” Is all that happens in my life just random, or is God standing over me always, even as I type these words on the page? Maybe the way people answer this question depends on their situation in life. Those fortunate enough to have food, shelter, and family they can count on often answer “Yes, God is my friend, and cares about me individually.” But what about those who live in poverty, who are forced to be child soldiers, who have no family or friends, I can see that they might answer no to that question. But one of our answers must be right, because God can’t be a friend to some and abandon others.
I don’t really know the answer to my own question and sometimes my answer varies from day to day. On the days I’m surrounded by friends and my life is running smoothly I’d probably say yes, God is my friend and He is blessing me with all of this. On other days, when I hear about a good family friend losing their teenage son, or I am struggling myself, I question where God is? I can’t make sense of it.
I like to believe in that footprints poem, which tells me that when I am hurting and I only see one set of footprints; God is carrying me on His shoulders. I hope that I will come to a point in my life where I know for certain that God is my friend, every step of the way, in good times and bad. I would like to know for sure that God always has my back.