“When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace”
(from song “Cornerstone” by Reuben Morgan)
This lyric puts the perfect words to the current state of my heart. I have not been feeling close to God, and yet I have been feeling at peace. I am sure all followers of Jesus will have times when they do not feel close to God. Times when we cannot sense His presence, when we suddenly wonder how we moved from a place of intimacy and closeness to a place of distance and questions. Finding yourself here can invoke a mix of troubling emotions. We can feel worried, confused, and upset. We can feel out of control. We can even feel fearful or doubtful that our relationship with God is still secure.
What are we to do as followers of Jesus when we feel far from God?
Trust in the knowledge of God’s grace. Trust in who God is and who you are because of what He has done. Your identity in Christ is a reality that is not dependent on the feelings of the moment. When you find yourself feeling disconnected or even far from God, remember the truth of who He is. God loves me. Jesus gave His life on the cross so that all who believe in Him can be made new. I have accepted Jesus, and His Spirit lives in me. Nothing can separate me from God’s love. These things do not change and are not dependent on how I feel. My identity in Jesus does not depend on my feelings. My status with God does not depend on how I feel either. I may feel not close to God, I may feel that right now I cannot see, hear, or sense Him. But I can still rest on his unchanging grace. My security is based on who He is and what He has done, not on my circumstances or how I feel. So when I find myself in this place, I do not need to fear or worry, but trust. I do, however, need to take notice.
Evaluate why I am in this place and how to move out of it. Feeling not close to God does not mean I have lost my salvation or that God is upset with me. But it is an indication that something needs to be addressed in my life. Have I placed something else in higher priority to my relationship with God? What choices have I been making lately? Have I been spending time nurturing the relationship? Do I have times where I practice listening to God speak His love and wisdom into my life? Is there some sin in my life that is coming between Him and I? Am I exceptionally busy, run-down or tired? Have I been intentionally spending time with other believers who can encourage me, teach me, give insight into my situation and share stories of God’s work in their lives? Have I been letting God’s Word root itself in my heart? These are a handful of possible questions I can ask God about myself to help determine what is needed to align myself with Him once again. If I have been over-committed and hectic, He may lead me to a time of rest and reconnecting with Him by slowing down. If I have been hiding some growing sin in my heart, He may lead me to confession, exposing my heart and finding healing. If I have been putting God on the back-burner while everything else in my life takes priority, He may lead me to a time of restructuring so that God again is first in my life. Evaluate where you are at with God and let Him lead you.
Tim Keller wrote, “A sense of His absence is an evidence that He has touched you”
Feeling a sense of not being close to God is actually just a further indication that God has been and continues to work in your life. Do not let your faith be dictated by how you feel. When you find yourself feeling in a distant place from God, rest in the truth and reality that God loves you and dwells in You. Rest knowing that this has not changed and do not be afraid. Instead evaluate what areas of your life need to be addressed and adjusted that will bring you back into an intimate connection with the Lord.