When God Seems Distant . . .

Still
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It feels good to sit and relax after a busy day or after the kids have left for school. Pausing from our flurry of activities, we take a moment to calm ourselves and focus on what God has to say to us.

We feel strengthened in faith when we meditate on Scripture or on some devotions that inspire us in our walk with God.

But we’re not always in tune with God. So many things disturb our peace—diseases strike young and old, wars and natural disasters shock us, relationships strain or break. And such crises can create dry times in our faith life.

We’d love to always sense sweet communion with God, but during times of deep melancholy or emotional distress we may feel numb or dead. God seems distant. We know God will never leave us or forsake us, but it doesn’t always feel that way.

Time for a Change?

From my experience these dark times compel us to consider a change, either in attitude or in direction. It may be a change in vocation--a new job or going back to school. How can we know? God seems to leave us to come to our own conclusions. We muddle along and keep asking God to show us the way. At times we can’t even pray. We go through a valley so dark that we no longer see any light.

Perhaps we’re on the wrong track altogether. Maybe we’re holding on to justifiable unforgiveness or anger. We search our hearts until we come to that one person whom we can “never” forgive. Yet God asks us to do just that. If it were easy we wouldn’t need God’s grace to do it.

Anger turned inward may cause depression. If we find ourselves stuck and unable to move on, we need professional help to understand what’s holding us back from a full life. At times that may mean taking medication to alleviate depression resulting from a physical disorder. Sometimes it means talking with a good counselor. We need to clarify our situation so we can turn it into something positive. We need to deal with our hurt enough to let it go.

These feelings may surface again and again, but we can keep surrendering them to God’s grace till they lose their power.

Disillusioned?

When we’re hurting or when we’ve put our heart and soul into something others don’t value, we become disillusioned. We need the grace of God to help us refocus. And God’s direction will come, often in ways we don’t expect.

So instead of futilely nursing a grievous or negative situation, we should focus on something else that gives us satisfaction. Letting go of unproductive thinking takes self-discipline, but it’s something God asks us to do so that joy can seep back into our lives.

Are you in a dark valley? Keep praying for God to show you the way to go. If you’re not able to pray, ask others to pray for you. Trust that God will direct your path. Be willing to search your heart and give up whatever hinders the flow of grace you so long for.

The apostle Paul puts it this way: “This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13, NRSV).

About the Author

Sini Den Otter is a retired hospital chaplain. She is a member of Inglewood Christian Reformed Church, Edmonton, Alberta.
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