When quiet overtakes you and the silence is deafening, how do you respond? Or when the noise of life crowds out heaven’s voice, where do you turn? When you can’t feel God’s presence, what do you do?
Here are five things for you to remember and do when you can’t seem to feel God’s presence in you or around you:
1. Acknowledge Who He Is.
Remember God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. He is the One who never changes. (We do, but He doesn’t). He is the One who promises, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Spend time declaring the names of God in prayer.
One of the best ways to acknowledge God’s presence is to sing or listen to praise and worship music. Absorb the words of the songs, sing them back to God as if He were there with you. Because He is. When we seek Him, we will find Him. (Deuteronomy 4:29, Matthew 7:7).
2. Ask God to search your heart.
The Psalmist‘s cry of “Create a clean heart in me, O God,” (Psalm 51:10) can be our cry, too. As we utter that prayer, God’s Spirit will vacuum up the messes and clean up the spills from our sinful lives. Sometimes we’re not even aware of that break in fellowship or when we’ve quenched His Spirit from working in and through us. In those times, God may seem far away, but He is faithful to show us the way back. In reality, He hasn’t left you. But you’ve built up a wall between the two of you in the same way that a couple does in a marriage relationship. Applying the principle of 1 John 1:9 to our lives will help restore that relationship with God once again and help renew our sensitivity to God’s presence.
God doesn’t remove the natural consequences of our sin, but His grace will forgive us and give us the desire to keep sin from becoming a stronghold and practice in our lives again. He makes all things new! (2 Corinthians 5:17).
3. Affirm who you are.
If you are a believer and follower of Jesus, you are His child–forever. Nothing and no one can snatch you from His hand (John 10:28). Your enemy, the devil, is always waiting to deceive you, to bring up old history from your past. But as a Christ One, you have the authority through the blood and name of Jesus to rebuke that enemy and expose him as a liar. Jesus stands as your Advocate, speaking truth about who you really are.
4. Accept your emotions for what they are.
Remember that what you are feeling today may be related more to the pizza you ate last night than your spiritual condition. Countless influences can plunge or spike our emotions: sickness, stress, lack of sleep, or chemical imbalance. I’ve learned through many a PMS nightmare or irregular sleep pattern that often what I need is simply to rest. Once I catch up, my emotions will do the same thing–which inevitably paves the way toward accurate thinking regarding my relationship with God and the reality of His constant presence. Just because I don’t “feel” very spiritual at the time doesn’t negate who I am: God’s child (John 1:12). Neither does it eradicate God’s presence in my life.
All of us endure seasons of life that challenge our stability and yes, even our ability to evaluate accurately our own emotions. Sometimes we need help separating fact from fiction, truth from lies. While most of these seasons or conditions are temporary, don’t wait too long to enlist help, either through a wise friend or trusted Christian counselor if your negative emotions persist. And in one sense, allow the final truth to settle in: all these things will pass, because our new, permanent eternal home with Jesus awaits one day for all believers. We’ll no longer wonder about His presence; instead, we will enjoy uninterrupted, perfect fellowship with God.
5. Allow His Word to saturate your heart, mind, and emotions.
Once again, rehearsing the truth–especially from God’s Word–will purge your thoughts and renew your mind of all that seems contrary to your beliefs. Study and meditate on those verses where God assures His children of His presence, of His power, of His passion for you, and of His faithfulness to you. That’s what I try to do in almost every post/blog of mine as I try to encourage you. Because no matter what I or anyone else tells you, God’s Word has the last word. And it contains the truth you really need to know.
When you can’t feel God’s presence, don’t panic. Let your prayers and your praise rise to the One who lives in your heart, night and day. You can’t escape His presence (Psalm 139). But then, why would you want to?
My Personal Prayer for You
Lord Jesus, still the lies when we wonder where You have gone. Instead, turn our hearts toward You and Your Word as we listen once again to the truths you want us to hear: Your presence is always with us, and we belong to You. We are Your children. Thank You for Your presence, for pursuing us daily, and for loving us even when our emotions go awry. Your patience and long-suffering accompany Your faithfulness. Praise You, Jesus!
Have you experienced times when you couldn’t feel God’s presence? How did you get through those times?