When God Feels Distant

by Crystal Bowman

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 NKJV

Life is hard sometimes. For many, life is hard most of the time. Being a Christian is no guarantee that we get a free pass from pain and hardship. Just look at the stories in the Bible. Joseph spent some dark moments in a pit, was sold as a slave, and just when things were improving, he ended up in prison because of a woman’s lie. For 40 years, Moses led the grumbling, complaining Israelites through the wilderness on their quest to the Promised Land, and then he only got a sneak peek of the land from a mountain top. Do I even need to bring up the name Job? Probably not.

In the New Testament, many of Jesus’s followers were beaten, imprisoned, and experienced violent deaths. The suffering we see in the pages of Scripture is more than enough to understand that life is hard. And sometimes, in the midst of our pain and suffering—in the midst of wondering how life got so messed up—we wonder where God is.  

Do you ever feel distant from God? If we are honest, most of us will say yes. But just because we feel distant from Him, God is never far from us. Whether we feel close to God or not, it doesn’t change who He is. God loves us with an everlasting love. He is with us wherever we go, and His Spirit lives within us. In Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV), the Apostle Paul writes to the Romans, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That about covers it, right? Nothing can separate us from God! And here’s the thing—it doesn’t matter what we feel. It matters what we know. Feelings can be unpredictable and unreliable. Feelings can come and go like the wind. When we base our beliefs on what we feel, we will be tossed to and ‘fro, like the waves on the sea. Rather than letting your feelings determine your closeness to God, cling to what you know and believe. Do you know God is with you? Yes. Do you believe He will never leave you? Yes.  Do you know and believe He loves you? A thousand times yes. 

Whenever I feel distant from God, I know that He isn’t the one who moved. And so I seek Him though reading Scripture, through worship music, through prayers, and through looking at His creation. Psalm 95:4-5 (NIV) says, In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. And Psalm 19:1 (NIV) says, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

If you want to feel close to God, just open your eyes. Do you see the sky? God made that. Do you see trees, rivers, or mountains? They belong to God. Do you see birds and squirrels? God feeds them. Do you see flowers? God makes them grow. We are surrounded by God’s creation that speaks His name.

Psalm 100:4 (NKJV) gives us clear instructions on how to draw near to God: Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

If you are feeling distant from God today, follow the advice of the Psalmist. Thank Him. Praise Him. Enter His presence. He is waiting for you with open arms, and nothing can separate you from His love.  

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: What do you do when you feel distant from God?

Always Welcome

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

My sturdy little old Ukrainian grandmother was quite a character. In her old age, she came to despise anyone in the medical profession, especially nurses. During a brief stay in the nursing home, she once mistook my mother for a nurse when Mom entered my grandmother’s room. Grandma grabbed my mom and threw her across the floor; “Get out of here!” she snarled.

Shaken, my mom retreated. Standing outside in the hall, she began to wonder if maybe my grandmother hadn’t recognized her. So she attempted to enter again, this time announcing her arrival. “Mama, it’s me, Roberta,” she hesitantly called.

My grandmother greeted her with a big smile, arms opened wide. “Roberta!” she cried. We began to understand why the nurses were not crazy about Grandma.

While Grandma wasn’t fond of nurses, she was always warmly enthusiastic when a family member came to call. I never once doubted my welcome with her. Even the night that my grandfather died, as I arrived at midnight to spend the night with her, she welcomed me enthusiastically and with open arms. “You look hungry,” she told me. And got working right away to make me a poached egg.

I never doubted a warm reception from Grandma because I knew she loved me, unconditionally. Yet there have been times in my life I have doubted my reception with God. Usually it was after I had put my relationship with Him on the back burner and hadn’t talked to Him in days. Now I needed Him, and barely knew how to approach Him without embarrassment. Surely He would see right past any apologies I might offer as to my neglect—and look right into my selfish motives in approaching Him now.

Maybe this time he has had enough of this self-centered, unfaithful daughter of His.

That may be how a fallible human might receive me. But it is not how God, as revealed in the pages of Scripture, will interact with one He loves. James tells us “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5 NASB).

Did you catch that? Without reproach.

I might have been neglecting God, but He will not neglect me, nor will He ever. Like the father of the prodigal son, He patiently waits for us to turn to Him, ready to receive us back into open arms after we ignore or disobey Him. Later in his letter, James wrote, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4: 8, 10 NASB).

Not once in Scripture, when someone approaches God in humility, are they ever rejected. Even the worst of sinners are freely forgiven and welcomed back into the fold. Every time.

Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness… the Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.  Lamentations 3:19-23, 25 NASB

With God, I’m Always Welcome – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the conversations Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What makes you hesitant to approach God?