Does it mean anything to have no sense of God’s presence?

David wrote about losing that sense.

Why, LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

(Psalm 10:1)

So at the very least, it is not abnormal to feel that God is far, removed, hidden.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve ever experienced God the way I read and hear others describe Him. When I listen to them, sometimes I feel jipped, like I’m missing out on a huge piece of being a Christ follower.

Other times, I’ve felt an inner calm that could only come from outside me — always while sitting beside my daughter in the emergency room or in a waiting room while she was in surgery. Both times riding with her in an ambulance, even the second time when I knew that the doctors would say those words I had long dreaded… “We’re sorry, we can’t do anything.”

I am beginning to think my expectation of what it is to feel God’s presence is completely wrong.

Maybe feeling God’s presence isn’t for every one of his children, or isn’t for every day.

You know the familiar Footprints poem? About only seeing one set of footprints during those chapters in life most difficult, painful, and scary? Why would that poem resonate with so many if we didn’t all struggle with feeling alone at some point or another?

orange sunglassesIn a conversation with the woman who has counseled me off and on over the past few years, she pointed out to me that every time I talk about this, I use the word feel.

At first, I was defensive. Of course, it’s about feelings. That’s who I am. I’m a feeler.

But, as I’ve progressed through the next several days, I’ve realized that my feelings color the way I see everything. Feel happy and peaceful? I see everything sunny, approach crises with more calm, respond more patiently to frustration. Feel sick, tired, confused, overwhelmed, incompetent, or scared? Life is gray and tensions run high and I boil over into tears or anger at a moment’s notice. It’s those times when God feels far away and I really struggle with confidence and assurance.

So far, the only approach I’ve found that helps is to talk to myself, or preach to myself. I remind myself that I’m tired or overwhelmed or scared or sick, and that those feelings are coloring everything. I tell myself that it will all look different when I feel better, get more rest, get through the busyness, or things settle down. Basically, I tell myself that my feelings don’t reflect reality — they are like sunglasses with a specific color in the lenses.

I haven’t figured out how to change my sunglasses yet, but if I can remember they’re on, it helps a little.

What do you do when you feel like God is far away?

***

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe to this blog!