I just did a quick Google search on “what to do when you don’t feel like God is close,” and I found all sorts of links to articles and lists that point out how I’m “doing” this relationship with God thing all wrong. I could pray more, read my Bible more, and go to church more often. And if I am already doing those things and God still doesn’t feel close, then there’s a list of another eight things I could probably try harder at. To be honest, my quick Google research wasn’t very comforting to me.
There are some people that seem to always know God is really close to them. They feel Him close, they seem to literally hear God whispering in their ear every morning, and they receive clear directions from God on their purpose for the day. If that’s you, then that is amazing! Honestly, I’m truly happy for you. But that’s not really how it works for me.
I have felt God really close before, and there have been a handful of times I’ve received some clear direction and unexplainable peace from God. I know that He is real, He is with me, and He loves me, and yet oftentimes I don’t feel Him close, I wonder what He is up to, and I get frustrated.
“I don’t feel God’s presence and really haven’t for a long time.” Few people in church culture are willing to admit that, yet I think many can say that sentence with honesty.
As I ponder the absent feeling that sometimes comes in my own relationship with God, I wonder if this is how it’s actually supposed to be. I wonder if the aching dissatisfaction, frustration, and waiting might actually be evidence of a right relationship with God.
Theologians have a term called “the now and not yet.” It’s describing the reality that the Kingdom of God is now; however, God’s Kingdom has not yet come in its fullness. We are living in this in-between time, and we are called to wait patiently for Jesus to return. While He is always with us, there is also an “apartness” that leaves us longing for the day when all things will be made right and we will forever be in God’s Kingdom the way He intended. Until that day we wait.
This means that when we feel something is missing, it’s true. When we long for more and feel frustrated, we are justified. We don’t need to wallow in guilt that we can’t feel God close: we just need to stay faithful. We are waiting– and waiting can be hard– but one day the waiting will end. That’s the promise.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:13-14)