Friendships are often tested by separation and silence. This is true in your relation with God too. There may be times in life when we feel forgotten and alone. It is easy to worship God when things are going great in your life – food, friends, family, health and happy situations. But circumstances are not always pleasant. How do you worship God then? What do you do when God seems a million miles away?
In periods of seeming separation, you may feel God is angry with you or he is disciplining you for some sin. In fact sin does disconnect us from intimate fellowship with God. We grieve God’s spirit by disobedience. But often this feeling of abandonment from God has nothing to do with sin. It is a test of faith – one we all must face
God feels a million miles away. Will you continue to love, trust, obey and worship God, even when you have no sense of his presence or visible evidence of his work in your life? God’s omnipresence and the manifestation of his presence are two different things. One is a fact; the other is often a feeling. God is always present, even when you are unaware of him, and hid presence is too profound to be measured by mere human emotion.
He wants you to sense His presence. But He is more concerned that you trust Him than that you fell Him. Faith, not feelings, pleases God. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me” (John 14:1, NIV). Trusting in Jesus means depending on Him for what can never be lost. He has promised repeatedly, “He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:8). But God has not promised “you will always feel my presence”. In fact, God admits that sometimes he hides Himself from us: ‘truly you are a God who hides Himself, O God and Saviour of Israel” (Isaiah 45:15). There are times when He appears missing – in –action in your life.
This is a normal part of the testing and maturing of your friendship with God. Though it is painful, it is absolutely vital for the development of your faith. Knowing this gave Job hope when he could not feel God’s presence in His life, (Job 23:8,10, NIV).
The situations that will stretch your faith most will be those times when life falls apart and God seems nowhere to be found. This happened to Job. On a single day he lost everything – his family, his business, his health an everything he owned. Most discouraging – for thirty-seven chapters, God said nothing!
How do we praise God when you don’t understand what is happening in your life and God is silent? How do you stay connected in a crisis without communication? How do you keep your eyes in Jesus when they are full of tears? What do we learn from the personalities Job, David and Jesus Christ who have passed through dark period of seeming separation from God?
Tell God exactly how you feel:
Pour out your heart to God. Unload every emotion you are feeling. Job did this when he said, “Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul,” (Job 7:11 NIV). He cried out when God seemed distant: “Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house,” (Job 29:4 NIV). God can handle your doubt, anger, fear, grief, confusion and questions.
Did you know that admitting your hopelessness to God can be a statement of faith? Trusting Go but feeling despair at the same time, David wrote, “I believed therefore I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted’” (Psalms 116:10). David’s frankness reveals deep faith: he believed in God; he believed God would listen to prayer and he believed God would let him say what he felt and still love him.
Focus on God’s unchanging nature:
Regardless of circumstances, hang on to God’s unchanging character. “I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6, NIV). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV). Remind yourself that God: He is good, He loves me, He is with me, He knows what I am going through, He cares and He has a good plan for my life. Never doubt in the dark what was told you in the light” (Raymond Edman).
When Job’s life fell apart, and God was silent, Job still found things he could praise God for: That He is good and loving (Job 10:12); That He is all-powerful (Job 42:2); That He notices every detail of my life (Job 23:10); That He is in control (Job 34:13); That He has a plan for my life (Job 23:14); and That He will save me (Job 19:25).
Trust in God’s promises:
During the times of spiritual dryness, you must patiently rely on the promises of God and realize that he is taking you to a deeper level of maturity. A friendship based on emotion is shallow indeed. In the absence of confirming circumstances, Job held on to God’s word, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than daily bread,” (Job 23:12, NIV).
This trust in God’s word caused Job to remain faithful even though nothing made sense. His faith was strong in the midst of pain (Job 13:15). When you feel abandoned by God, continue to trust him in spite of your feelings. Thus you worship in the deepest way.
Remember what God has already done for you:
If God never did anything else for you, He would still deserve your continual praise for the rest of your life because of what Jesus did for you on the cross. God’s son died for you! This is the greatest reason for worship.
As Jesus took all of mankind’s sin and guilt on Himself, God looked away from that ugly sight. Jesus cried out in total desperation, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk.15:34, NIV). Jesus could have saved Himself – but then He could not have saved us.
Jesus gave up everything so you could have everything. He died so you could live forever, that alone is worthy of your continual thanks and praise. Never again should you wonder what else you have to be thankful for.
In our darkest moments of life, we can remember the words of our saviour Jesus Christ “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows,” (Luke 12:6-7 NIV).
Yes, we are never forgotten by God
Copyright © Jan 2007. D. Dale
Author: Dr. D. Dale is a retired professor in Research-coordination, & faculty of Agriculture, Kerala Agricultural University