When I’ve felt distant from God, I’ve also felt apathetic about our relationship. Like any relationship, when there’s distance, it also feels one sided.
I’ve said things like, God, I’m seeking you, and you’re not showing your face, or, Lord, I’ve been praying about this for so long, why are you still silent?
I get frustrated, impatient. I become tempted to give up on waiting to chart my own path forward.
I expect that you’ve felt this way before, too.
And I’m hoping that you’ll also agree with what I’m about to type next: My impatience always reveals something I’m trying to control.
You see, I have a pretty good heart-checker in me. And you do, too. It’s called the Holy Spirit, our assurance of faith.
When I start thinking about what it would look like to move forward without God’s guidance, I feel restless in my heart. I feel unsatisfied trying to force my way rather than following a path laid out before me.
That’s my cue that God is at work–in the situation, and in me. It’s reassuring, but still sort of awkward. Kind of like a gentle hug from your spouse after a fight, or finding a picture with a childhood friend you haven’t spoken to in years. The way forward may feel tense or unclear, but you know the relationship is worth fighting for.
Can I get an amen?
If you’re still tracking with me, then we’re at the point where we’ll need to do a bit of work. If we don’t feel connected to God, or we aren’t excited about him, we need to remind ourselves of who God is. We need to remind ourselves of how we have experienced his love and presence in our lives. We need to trust the promises that he’s given us for our future.
Here are some examples from scripture (but it’s even better when you make this list for yourself!):
- The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14)
- The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
- Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. (Psalm 16:5-6)
- If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
This is the same kind of work we need to put forth if we want our marriage relationship or our close friendships to be healthy and vibrant. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves who the person is that we love. We need to see them with fresh eyes, apart from our hurt (insecurity/shame/fear/stress/etc.) for our heart to rekindle a love and passion for them.
Our earthly relationships have two people prone to sin. That factor is different with our relationship to God. He doesn’t sin, and he doesn’t change. But sometimes he works in mysterious ways, and when we can’t understand, it feels like he is neglecting us.
And that hurts.
I’ve had my feelings hurt by God. It may seem like a weird thing to say, but I’m okay with that.
God is patient and kind. He’s gentle when I cry to him and tell him how I feel let down or neglected. In fact, some of these honest times with God have been when I’ve felt closest to him. Again, this is not unlike having a hard conversation with a spouse about how you’ve hurt each other. It’s raw, vulnerable and brings so much healing.
I’ve found that while I may feel hurt by God sometimes, God never hurts me. I don’t always see the full picture, so I misunderstand or I feel forgotten. But that is never God’s plan.
Truth shines in at those times, and I’m often reminded that I, in fact, am the one who’s neglected God, or denied him in my life. I remember the idols I’ve chosen before him. This is not to say that God plays tit for tat, as if he distances himself from me because I’ve distanced myself from him. But rather, my sin and distractions are what created the distance.
Part of the sanctification process is learning, and feeling, the pain that results from distance with God.
My relationship with God was never intended to be something that’s just there when I need it. It’s meant to define me and inform every aspect of my life. If God let me come and go from our relationship when I felt like I needed him, that would make a mockery of God.
He is God almighty. He demands our praise and attention. He is worthy of our affection. He is not hard handed, but he is to be revered.
If God is God, he can not let me, his follower, be apathetic or selective towards him and be okay with it.
Because he loves me. He’s jealous for me. He wants my whole heart. That’s what he’s called me to, and what he’s asking of you, too.
So for you, reading this post because maybe you feel disappointed in your relationship with God, I encourage you to talk to him about it. Let him know how you feel, and what things you are confused about. Ask him to remind you about who he is, and what he thinks about you.
He loves you. Always remember that. If you feel tension because there is distance between you, take comfort in that fact. It shows that he is beckoning you back to him, and he wants healing and sanctification for your heart, too.