I was lying on my couch with one forearm covering my eyes, and only the flicker of my advent candles to light up the room. My emotional pain was so deep I thought surely God would show up. You know, one of those moments where God parts your personal Red Sea of Hell! And yet, despite my prayers said aloud for relief…the only thing I felt was His absence.
It has been a little over 2 months since that moment, and I wish that I could say He has made His presence known with a deep spiritual experience. Some of you know what I mean, we want to have “all the feels” when we are in pain! And then our well meaning friends show up to say one of the following:
- He has a plan
- All things work together for good
- He has something better for you
- Pray for His guidance
- He is simply saying wait
I always thank people for their Christian cliches as I picture myself throat punching them! It isn’t a sin unless you actually do throat punch them, but I want to talk about our tendency to search for a feeling when we search for God. In our quest to FEEL His presence we may miss SEEING Him move in our life. Seeing God move in our life is much better than a feeling!
I want you to think a little deeper into how God operates. I am very much like many of you in that I am a “feeler.” And while it makes us compassionate and empathetic it can often times lead to us making poor decisions and assumptions in relationships. And that includes our relationship with God.
Over the last two months I can’t say that I have FELT Gods presence or love. Yes, I prayed for it and craved the feeling of His arms wrapped around me saying, “I got this…everything will be okay.” And yet, He appeared to be silent as my personal storm raged around me.
Many of you reading this are experiencing this silence that seems to come at the worst possible moment. It’s as if the electricity (power) has gone off in the middle of a horrific storm. At the very moment you need to communicate, and you need to see what’s in front of you…you are left in the darkness, and the only sounds you can hear are that of the storm raging around you.
This moment has caused you to doubt God’s power and maybe even His existence. And thus why you can’t feel His presence you simultaneously feel guilt for your doubts and anger toward Him for His absence. So let me say something that is going to make you want to throat punch me! God is not absent…He is in the storm!
Let’s take a step away from feeling God’s presence and look for Him in your life at this very moment. Humor me and ask yourself the following questions:
- What opportunity has suddenly presented itself?
- What person has come back into your life after a long absence?
- What person has come into your life (seemingly) out of no where?
- What thought keeps coming to your mind, and you don’t know why (i.e. send your resume, get a new job, go back to school, get counseling, check on a friend, give them money, say your sorry).
- And the big question, what has this difficult time taught you? Lean into the silence!
Those questions may help you realize that God is not absent, but is actually at work in and around you. You are not dong life alone unless you choose to do so. Personally, I often times think we ask, “Why does God feel absent” when we are actually asking, “Why am I still struggling?” And those are two very different questions.
Why does God feel absent is a question that we first see throughout the ancient teachings. King David in the Psalms describes his many moments of darkness as he cried out for God to show Himself. Again, he was actually asking for God to relieve him of his pain. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with crying out to God for relief, but we can’t assume He is “off the clock” when the pain continues.
Let me make sure I am not being the biggest hypocrite on the planet at this moment and say that this is a big struggle for me. I love God, but the way He has chosen to get me from point A to point B in life is very frustrating. I’ve even asked, “God, isn’t there a better heavenly way of getting my attention than putting me through hell?” I will promise you this, in the last two months I have learned things about myself and others that’ll make me a better human for the rest of my life. Does that mean I wouldn’t change things? Ask me in another few months!
When you feel as though God is absent please begin to look around, and ask some of the questions above to make sure you aren’t missing Him. God is a spirit who dwells within us so He is never absent. Some say He is silent, but my guess is that we are asking the wrong questions or just not listening. Maybe God is talking, but we just don’t like what He is saying to us. For example, when we pray for God to help us reconcile with someone, and He continually slams the door on our fragile little hearts! How about when we need a new job, home, or car? What about anxiety, depression, or our kids or significant other who seems set on sending us to an early grave? God isn’t absent…He just isn’t going to cater to our emotions or desires when He knows it isn’t in our best interest. Let’s go a little deeper into that in the final paragraph.
There comes a time to stop praying for certain things in our life, and just accept that the answer may be “no.” And that my friend is where faith is at play. Until you and I realize that we are to operate under God’s will and He does not work under ours…we will feel that He is absent. Let me leave you with this, God loves you deeply so when His answer is “no” it is truly good news. It may briefly hurt like hell, but that is because He may see the hell on earth you are headed toward if He said yes. And while you may not feel it, His arms are wrapped around you. And you may not hear it, but He is saying, “I got this, everything is going to be okay.”
Leave a Reply