About a week and a half ago, I was talking to a friend of mine who recently has been through a very big ordeal. While were talking, the subject of “feeling God” came up.
This woman is actually someone I look up to in addition to being my friend. Two of the reasons why I love her are her honesty and how she’s always respected me and talked to me like I was an adult, even when I wasn’t one and even though she views me as a daughter. I knew when the subject came up, she was serious and that she would give it to me straight.
We discussed moments in our lives when we expected to feel God right there with us, like He was almost tangible and standing beside us, and were both disappointed and worried when we didn’t feel Him at all. Not beside us, not falling upon us like a fine mist, not even in the same room.
If you’ve never experienced it before, just know that it’s terrifying and that I hope you never do. It’s enough to make you question your very salvation depending on how scared you are or how weak your faith may be.
Because these moments never come when life’s going well. You never question God’s presence when you have enough money left from your paycheck to put it into savings or to go shopping or when someone tells you they love or miss you or when the doctor tells you all you’ll need is some medicine and rest and you’ll be fine. They come when your boss or teacher calls you into his or her office and tells you it just won’t work out, when there’s not enough, when you feel so lonely that there might as well not be another person on the planet, when things are pointing more towards death than life.
Christians have this need to feel God because it’s one of our largest connections to Him. Discerning spirits, gut feelings, good or bad vibes. We can’t see Him, and He’s not usually a verbal being, so we don’t usually hear Him. But we can feel Him, so we rely on that. And when that connection isn’t there, it’s alarming.
Combine that panic with the awful context it’s usually found in, and it’s not hard to see why it’s so disheartening. It’s when we need God and His love and peace the most, but we get nothing. Our prayers are met with silence. Our starved hearts receive emptiness. Our longings are left to only long for more.
It doesn’t seem fair, and it certainly doesn’t seem like God, so how can God be there and loving us?
I think the scripture Alan used Sunday is perfect for this. We rejoin our dear friend Elisha in 2 Kings 6:1-7 and see God work a miracle through him. “Now the company of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘As you see, the place where we live under your charge is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan, and let us collect logs there, one for each of us, and build a place there for us to live.’ He answered, ‘Do so.’ Then one of them said, ‘Please come with your servants.’ And he answered, ‘I will.’ So he went with them. When they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was felling a log, his ax head fell into the water; he cried out, ‘Alas, master! It was borrowed.’ Then the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick, and threw it in there, and made the iron float. He said, ‘Pick it up.’ So he reached out his hand and took it” (NRSV).
Defying the laws of physics to show someone that it will all be okay is amazing.
As some of you may know or remember, I’ve dabbled in being a lumberjack. I used to help my dad split and haul wood every week, sometimes multiple times a week. I actually used to be pretty good with an ax and a sledgehammer (the time I broke my thumb not withstanding). We had an ax head come off or feel like it would, but we had the privilege of owning our wood-splitting paraphernalia. If we’d broken borrowed equipment, we might’ve freaked out too.
The gentleman in this story goes a little berserk, and for good reason. Not only has he broken something that didn’t belong to him, but without it, he can’t complete his mission. He’s lost it, and he starts to panic. He then turns to the one he knows can help him.
I like Elisha a lot in this passage because he’s so calm but so supportive. Everything he says is one sentence long, the longest sentence being only four words, but he goes with these men and he helps them. When the guy lost the ax head, Elisha doesn’t say, “You’re on your own.” He doesn’t give him a lecture on being careful. He helps him find it. He didn’t retrieve it for the guy, but he played a big part in the retrieval – making the ax head float. He was quiet, but he was there.
That’s exactly how God is sometimes. He may not do every last bit of it for us, but we can’t do it without Him. He may be silent as a stone, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t there.
God is bigger than what we feel and perceive. Just because there’s no evidence to us that He’s here doesn’t mean He’s not. It’s in moments of doubt that we have to take God at His word and remember His perfect reputation. He said He’s always love us and never leave us. And up until our dark and doubting hour, He’s done just as He said He would. Why would He stop, especially out of nowhere, especially when you need Him most? The Bible makes it very clear that sometimes we’ll face uphill battles. It also makes it very clear that God is right there with us every step we take up that hill and back down it when we stumble or slide.
It ultimately comes down to our faith. Do we trust that every bit of God’s Word is true? Do we believe that God means it just as much now as He did then?
It’s hard to believe that God’s drawing you to greatness when you’re having trouble believing that He cares.
We’ve already established that what we feel doesn’t always reflect the truth. So you feeling like God doesn’t care about you does not mean you’re right, and you thinking that way doesn’t change the fact that He cares for you deeply. Regardless of how neglected or perhaps even abandoned you feel, God still loves you. You may not feel it. You might not believe me. But it’s true.
And this God who loves you is also the God who has only the best things planned for you. If you’re struggling to believe that, just keep pursuing Him. Honestly, what are you going to lose from holding on? Not much if anything. Compare that to the blessings upon gifts that God will give you if you do hold on. There’s no contest. As Paul says in Philippians 3:8 (NLT), “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage…”
Nothing else matters. Knowing and loving Christ, holding on to God, is the most important thing. Everything else is rubbish by comparison. Don’t give up the most important thing for something else – like doubts, bitterness, a sense of hopelessness – that will only bring you down. Cling to God and remind yourself of the greater life He’ll bring you to.
By Carrie Prevette