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?

Seeing the Invisible

by Crystal Bowman

Growing up in West Michigan, summer was always my favorite season of the year. I was never a fan of cold weather, and in Michigan we got plenty of that! I loved the warm sunny days when I could play outside with my neighborhood friends, run through sprinklers, and eat popsicles. I also spent many days at our family cottage, baiting hooks with worms to catch perch or bass for dinner. Summer was all about outdoor living and enjoying God’s creation.

My favorite activity was taking a drive to Lake Michigan to watch the sunset. The vast open sky above the sparking blue water was breathtaking. The swirling hues of orange and yellow, red and purple, were indescribable. As a young girl, I felt the presence of God when I gazed at the sky. I always believed in God, and I knew he was real. But there was something extra special about observing his artwork. I knew only God could paint something so majestic and glorious. Watching the glowing ball sink into the multicolored horizon made me feel closer to Him. In my young mind I wholeheartedly agreed with the Psalmist who wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1 NIV).

Nature is one of the ways God reveals himself to us. All of creation speaks of his glory. Day and night, the skies put on a show, letting the world know that our Creator lives. Day and night the sounds of nature create a soothing backdrop of melodies orchestrated by the divine conductor. In Romans 1:20 (NIV), the Apostle Paul explains: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Without excuse. A bold but true statement to all of humanity. We do not have to search for God. All we need to do is open our eyes and ears to experience his presence. We can see his beauty as brilliant sunbeams poke through an opening in a cumulus cloud, like a spotlight from heaven to earth. We can listen to the coo of a mourning dove singing praises to its Maker. We can feel gentle breezes waft across our cheeks as we go for a morning walk. And on a starry night, we can stand amazed at the One who calls each star by name.

God’s divine nature is clearly seen—and heard and felt. It surrounds us every day. No matter where we live, all of creation declares the glory of God. May we—who are without excuse—also give praise and glory to his holy name.

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
 and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11 NIV).

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children including Our Daily Bread for KidsM is for Manger, and Does God Take Naps? She is a speaker and mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and teaches at writers’ conferences. She is a regular contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music. Crystal lives in both Florida and Michigan, and when she is not writing or playing with her grandkids, she loves to sneak outdoors to walk and talk with God.

Join the conversation: What around you speaks of God’s existence and presence?

Photo by Lili Kovac on Unsplash