Encouragement From Scripture For When God Feels Distant
Some of the most promising and spectacular words ever spoken by God are found in the book of Jeremiah: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you” (Jeremiah 29:13-14). And sometimes, in our quest for finding God, it appears that He wants to remind us of this extraordinary promise. We’re deeply troubled, so we fervently pray. We’re distressed, so we cry out to God for relief. But sometimes all we hear in reply is a silence so deafening it drowns out every thought but this: God isn’t listening. So we ask, “Has God abandoned me?”
You’re Not Alone In Your Struggle
Many believers have experienced the feeling that finding God is difficult or impossible. After C. S. Lewis lost his wife to cancer, he called out to God for comfort but sensed no reply. Confused, he asked, “What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?”
The Scripture speaks of cries for help from those who are intent on finding God: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?” (Psalm 77:7-8). This prayer of the psalmist communicates the heart of someone focused on finding God: “O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still” (Psalm 83:1).
Feelings Are Fleeting, God’s Promises Are Facts
At times, finding God seems difficult, even for those who have a relationship with Him. Changes in life bring uncertainty: the loss of a job, a divorce, a job promotion, the birth of a child. Some have referred to these unexpected changes in life as “divine interruptions.” Even when the change is positive, it can interrupt our feelings of well-being and leave us feeling alone. The question arises, “Where is God anyway? Why am I having such a difficult time finding God?”
It’s important to remember that, in finding God, the promise of Jeremiah 29:13-14 is never nullified by our subjective feelings. Just because we feel that God is far from us doesn’t mean He is. In fact, He has told us that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Since God never lies, we reject incorrect conclusions about our circumstances when those conclusions contradict what we know about God from His Word. We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
The Two Part Solution In Psalms
For the key to finding God, we have to go back to Psalm 77. After the psalmist laments that God has rejected him and His love has vanished (verses 7-8), he comes to his senses and writes verses 11-12, giving us the two-part solution to feeling abandoned by God: “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” First, the psalmist determines to remember God’s deeds and His miracles. Just remembering how God saved us from a life of futility and an eternity in hell should give us a proper perspective on His love. When we think of the many times God has intervened in our lives in the form of answered prayer, we are reminded of His faithfulness. Some people find it helpful to keep a journal of answered prayer that they can refer back to in the “dry” times of doubts and confusion.
Second, the psalmist determines to meditate on God’s Word to reach his objective of finding God. Meditating on God’s Word is the only sure way to come to right conclusions about God. Those who are “blessed” in Psalm 1 are those who mediate on God’s law-the Bible-“day and night.” God’s Word delights us (Psalm 1:2) and makes us strong, fruitful, and able to withstand life’s storms without withering (verse 3). To neglect the Word is to neglect the only means of sanctification in our lives (John 17:17) and to leave ourselves open to the lies of the devil, who would like nothing better than to convince us that God has abandoned us.
Jeremiah promises that, when we seek God with all our hearts, God will be found. As Paul told the Athenians, God “is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being'” (Acts 17:27-28). As we embark on the never-ending quest to find God in every single day, we remember and meditate on His mighty works, and we welcome His “divine interruptions.”
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