You’ve experienced those moments. Perhaps it was when you first came to know Jesus and your whole being seemed engulfed by His joy. Perhaps it was in a time of crisis and you unmistakably knew that God had come through for you. Perhaps it was in a beautiful nature environment and God’s peace flooded your soul. Perhaps it was at a Christian service or event and your heart was filled to overflowing with inspiration and courage to do God’s work. There have been times when you knew the presence of God, and it was sweet.
But right now you don’t. Your mind may be filled with confusion and worry, and you can’t seem to hear God’s voice. Your financial circumstances are dismal, and there’s no miracle on the horizon. Your marriage is in trouble, and your prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling. Sickness or grief or pain characterize your days, and God seems nowhere to be found. Your soul is dry. If only you could feel Him with you it would make everything better.
You’re trying as hard as you can, but you can’t feel the presence of God.
If you’ve been a Christian for very long, you can almost certainly relate to those feelings. Your head may believe what God says, but your heart craves to sense His presence when things get tough. You want to hear His voice telling you what to do next. You want to feel His comfort for your aching soul. You want Him to bring you relief and reassurance and refreshing.
But nothing happens. And you may be tempted to question, “Where is He?”
There’s a truth that came to mean a great deal to me during some of my own dry periods, and it’s this: The teacher is always silent during a test. TWEET THAT. It could be that God is allowing a test so that you – and the universe – can see what you’re truly made of. Will you still trust Him?
Another way to express the same truth is this. Our government sends it most talented, trained, and ready soldiers to carry out the most dangerous missions behind enemy lines. And during their mission, they may well be cut off from communication with their leaders. The Commander in Chief or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is not on the radio crooning, “Everything’s gonna be alright!” when the special forces are engaging the enemy.
If you can’t feel God’s presence, it may not be because something is wrong. Something may be very right.
What to Do if You Can’t Feel the Presence of God
If you cannot feel God’s presence, here are some things you need to do.
- Check your heart. Have you allowed any interference to disrupt your connection with God? Have you been resisting anything the Holy Spirit has been trying to change in your life? Rebellion or cherished sin in your heart can certainly block your sense of God’s presence and God’s answer. (Psalm 66:18) Start here. If your heart is unclean, get that right first. But don’t park here. If your conscience is clear, move forward.
- Remember what He has done in the past. Going through stuff together increases your trust in someone – including God. Find ways to remember the things He has done for you already. Keep a journal, or physical mementos, or notes in your Bible. In your dark or dry times go back and review how He has been there for you in the past. (Psalm 77:11-12)
- Go where He is. It’s easy to get so busy that we neglect our relationship with God. Like human relationships, our relationship with God takes time and nurturing. Take the time and energy to do your part to enter His presence even when you don’t feel like it. Read His word. Pray – and spend as much time listening for Him to respond as you do in speaking to Him. Spend time in nature, and in worship with other believers. (Psalm 63:2) Just keep doing those things.
- Keep doing the last thing He told you. Do whatever you do know to do, and keep doing it until you get new orders. That always includes living with integrity, treating others as Jesus would, and caring for those closest to you. It also includes carrying on your mission to the degree you understand it. Jesus told the parable of the king who gave his servants instructions, and then went to a far country. His servants were expected to follow all those instructions until his return. (Matthew 24:45-47)
- Choose to believe. Your feelings do not determine whether or not God is with you. It’s awesome to sense His presence, but it becomes a matter of spiritual maturity to maintain your faith even when the feelings aren’t there. As the saying goes, the sun is still shining even when you cannot see it. Jesus has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Choosing to believe regardless of your feelings is part of passing the test.
It’s awesome to sense the presence of God. I treasure every such moment. But I also have something deeper, stronger, and more trustworthy than my feelings.
I often pray for people to sense the presence of God. I know how powerful those moments can be. I encourage you to value every such moment, and remember them.
And when you can’t feel His presence, keep going anyway. He will not let you down. In Jesus last words according to Matthew, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
And He will keep His promise.
Your Turn: What do you do when you cannot sense the presence of God? Are you there now? Leave a comment below.
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