Have you ever felt that God wasn’t listening anymore? I hope you never have, but the fact is, if you haven’t, you will. There will be times in your life when God seems to be far away, and intimacy with Him seems like nothing more than a fading memory, or a distant dream. When that happens, you have the opportunity to become closer to God than ever before, because this is a time in your life when you can learn to walk by faith, not by feelings.
I have been reading Psalm 13, which is what I do when God seems far away. David wrote this psalm when he was going through an emotional valley; yet he continued to find strength and direction in his faith in God. David shows our faith can overcome our feelings when God seems far away.
Ps 13:5 “But I trust in your unfailing love.”
When I read this I hear David saying: “I won’t let despair get the best of me. I will just assume you are with me…watching over me…taking care of me…leading me along the way, regardless of how I feel about it.”
I have a friend who works for a company that is struggling to stay afloat. There have been some rumors that he might be transferred, or even laid off. This has put him in a state of limbo. He doesn’t know if he is staying or going, or if he’ll have a job next month. When he goes to the office he isn’t sure what he should do from day to day. As a result, he’s been afraid to begin any long-term projects and has found himself floundering — at a time when he can least afford to flounder. He finally said to me, “Since I really didn’t know what was going to happen back when I started this job I’ve decided that the only thing that has changed is that back then I expected the best and now I’m expecting the worst. So I’m just going to trust God that everything will work out for the best, whether the company succeeds or fails, and keep doing my job the way it’s supposed to be done.” His situation hasn’t changed but he has because of where he placed his trust in God.
What I’m saying is this: regardless of how you feel, assume God’s presence in your life and do what you know you should be doing. Assume God’s presence. Assume God’s love. Assume God’s mercy. Assume God’s guidance. Assume God’s protection. Even though you don’t feel His presence, love, mercy, guidance or protection — trust that God is there by faith. This is how we, in David’s words, “Trust in God’s unfailing love.”
This means we continue spending time alone with God whether we feel like it or not. We go to church each week whether we feel like it or not. We serve whether we feel like it or not. We include God in our daily life whether we feel like it or not. We return to him again and again throughout the day whether we feel like it or not.
Even when you don’t feel God’s presence in your life, he is there. Cling to God’s presence and act the same as if you felt His presence. This is how you put your trust in his unfailing love. It’s a matter of saying, “God, regardless of how I feel, I’m going to keep on doing what I know I should be doing, because by faith I trust that you are right here with me.”
Cling to God’s presence: trust God not your emotions.
Ps 13:5,6 “My heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”
When God seems far away, cling to what you know is true. Remind yourself of the things God has done for you, and rejoice in them.
I try to think of all the things I know to be true, and offer them up to God. “Lord, you’ve made such a difference in my life. You’ve given me joy. You’ve provided for me. You’ve forgiven my sins. You’ve given me eternal life. You’ve answered my prayers.” [Here’s where keeping a prayer journal pays off!] As I remind myself of these things, and as I offer them up to God in prayer, I find myself strengthened in Him.
I’m not saying pretend to feel something that you don’t really feel. I’m saying that God knows how we feel; so we might as well be honest with Him. I search your heart for those things I know to be true, and, by faith rejoice in them. I cling to them.
When I feel like God is far away I sometimes think about where my life would be if I had never become a Christian. What would my life have been like if it had followed its logical progression? What kind of career would I have pursued? What kind of person would I have married? What kind of father would I have become? Every time I think these things through, I am overcome with gratitude for God’s sovereign mercy in my life. Even when he seems far away, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has made an incredible difference in my life, and I cling to that. And I thank him for it.
Cling to God’s truth: rejoice in what God has done, not your emotions.
God loves you whether you feel it or not! Cling to that truth.