Recently I have had questions from readers which helped me to remember that many people struggle with the same feelings. They also reminded me of my own struggles in certain areas and how God brought understanding and deepened my relationship with Him in those times. I’ve been through many things that may be of help to you. Often the Lord has reminded me not to forget the frustration and pain of certain portions of the path so that I may help others who lose their way in the same places I did. Obviously I don’t have all the answers. But I can share with you what He has taught me.
Most Christians have experienced times when it seemed that God was very far away or perhaps He just didn’t care at all. I have been in that place so many times where I thought I would just die if God did not “show up” and come to be with me.
First, let me point out that these feelings are actually a sign of great hunger and thirst for Him! You are sensitive enough to His Presence that you realize there is a distance and you are trying desperately to close that gap. Most people in the world have no idea they could even have a close relationship with God and have no desire for that. Jesus said “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst … for they shall be filled.” (Mt. 5:6)
There are several reasons why we may feel distance between us and the Lord. Let’s deal with the obvious ones first.
Disobedience creates a wall between us and God. “The hand of Jehovah is not shortened from saving nor His ear heavy from hearing. But your iniquities are coming between you and your God and your sins have hidden His face from you, from hearing.” (Isa.59:1,2 LITV) Ouch! Yes, it is true and it happens to all of us. We have wrong thoughts which lead to wrong actions. We leave doors open for the enemy to enter and exploit us and then wonder why God didn’t protect us! Sometimes He is waiting for us to wake up and repent. But “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Just ask God to show you where you are wrong. Go through a short checklist of what you have read or watched on t.v. or online, review your own attitudes, thoughts and reactions. Then sincerely repent, receive His forgiveness and cleansing and get back up again. Run back to Him and not away from Him. Once we realize we have sinned, the enemy loves to set a trap of condemnation to catch us in. He tells us we are so bad that God can’t love us or have any relationship with us. Don’t listen to those lies. Crush them under your feet and keep climbing.
If God has not revealed anything that requires repentance, don’t go digging for things. He will show you the things He wants to work on, usually a little at a time so that you are not overwhelmed. I used to agonize over the scripture that says, “Be ye therefore perfect as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect”. Then I received some revelation through Hannah Whitall Smith’s little book The Christians Secret of a Happy Life. She points out that the Greek word ‘perfect’ in Mt. 5:48 actually means ‘complete’. When God looks at an apple tree in June, He calls the apples perfect. They are small, green and sour, but the best apple that June can produce and perfect for that season. However, an apple on the same tree in September is red, ripe and sweet. So shall we be if we stay in the process with Him.
There are other reasons why we find it difficult to feel His Presence or experience Him. There are actually times when He plays hide and seek with us for the purpose of drawing us deeper into Him where we might not be inclined to go on our own. (Job 23:9, Song of Solomon 2:9) I had a beautiful experience with Him in this regard that I have written about in a posting which can be found in the archives under August 2012 -” Created for Both Realms – Don’t give up, Keep trying”.
There is also this to consider. We are soldiers in training for the last battle. One day we will rule and reign with Him. Sometimes the training here is intense and would overwhelm us if not for His grace. But we must be trained in all areas so that we are strong in faith and endurance against the enemy. “Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tm. 2:3) There are times when we train together in quarters that seem much too close and crowded. There are other times when we train alone in solitary and lonely conditions. Jesus Himself was even tempted by the devil in the wilderness alone. And He cried out from the cross “My God, why have You forsaken me?” Paul reminds us in Heb. 12:2-4 that “You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin”.
But God never removes His Presence from us to teach us anything or to punish us. In fact, He never removes His Presence from us at all. Never! He promised to be with us always and He always is. (Heb. 13:5) Most often, our feelings of distance and even rejection come from a wrong perspective which is contrary to the truth of Who He is.
We will deal with this issue further in the next posting. For now, here are some other archived teachings on this subject that may be beneficial as well.
April 2012 – Intimacy with the Lord – The Secret Place
March 2012 – Intimacy with the Lord – Satisfied Yet Longing Still
January 2012 – Intimacy with the Lord – Face to Face