There are moments in my life when God’s presence feels incredibly close and comforting. As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, I felt His presence intensely during a very challenging season of life. When I learned to praise HIm above the chaos of my life – His presence enveloped me. But, as I have continued to praise Him regularly over the last 13 years, there have been seasons when I have not been able to feel HIs presence as vividly. Those times used to scare me. I wondered, what happened? Why can’t I feel His presence? What’s changed? I often prayed verses from the Psalms like, “I lift my hands to you in prayer (and praise) I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.” (Psalm 143:6) I remember crying out a few times, “God, I am praising you. Where are you?”
Slowly, over the past 13 years I have learned that my experience of God’s presence ebbs and flows. There are times when I am on my knees worshipping and His presence overwhelms me. It’s as if He is so close I can barely breathe. But there are other times when I am praising Him and while it’s a great time of praise, He might just be silent. What I have come to realize is that as fragile human beings I don’t believe we can handle, intense experiences of God’s presence 24/7. I think if we had that we would become emotionally and physically exhausted. In heaven, we will have new bodies and we will be able to handle the continual pleasure of His overwhelming sovereign presence. Here on earth, I believe we are to enjoy and savor the moments when His presence is intimate. And during the times when we don’t feel His presence, celebrate the fact that we are craving His presence.
Now of course we must also examine our hearts for sin. Because sin makes us want to hide from God, so if we are the ones hiding we likely won’t experience the pleasure of HIs presence. But, if there is no sin and you just feel somewhat blah, your body might just be tired, or God may be inviting you to trust that He is there even though you don’t feel Him. Don’t be discouraged. Just keep continuing on in your journey of praise and realize that your experience of His intimate presence will ebb and flow. You might pray, Lord Jesus, I praise you that you are here even though I don’t feel your presence. I will choose to simply trust and relax, knowing that you haven’t abandoned me.”
I would love your thoughts. Leave a comment, I love hearing from you!
I have found when I typically do not hear God, or feel Him near it is because of my own sin. In my mind I know He is always there, but sometimes the reason I cannot feel Him is because of my own stuff. I also think that sometimes He needs to be silent and He wants me to search after Him.
In the fall of 1999 I felt very far from the Lord. In fact, I really questioned if He was real. Even though the Lord had been in my life since I was young. I was at a very low point. Fortunately, He never gives up on us. And now even when I know He is right there, but don’t feel that connected I can pray what you suggested. I can praise and simply trust and relax.
I really like your thought that as human beings a 24/7 intense experience would be to much for us to handle. Looking back on some of those times for me. I would agree, it is emotionally and physically exhausting.
I can very much relate to what you say here. In fact, I just gave a choir devotional on the topic last week, reading from Ps. 63 and Ps. 42. I am in that place now and have been here at other times in my life. It is in these times I learn to serve humbly and obediently regardless of any immediate reward. I may never have a better time to show my love for God than now by refusing to rebel and walk away simply because He isn’t giving me what I want in terms of feeling His love. I don’t deserve any of it so I will take what He gives me when He wants to give it and will wait, knowing that His love is real and still there even when I can’t feel it.
I also know what it is to be overwhelmed by the love of God and agree that the body can’t take too much of it. There was a time God so poured out His presence and love on my heart that I had a hard time eating or sleeping for weeks. I was too excited and my head was in la-la land. I couldn’t enjoy the activities I normally enjoy here on earth because they paled in comparison to God’s love that I had tasted. All I wanted to do was spend time with God. I’ve read of others having similar experiences and heard that God will sometimes do that when He is calling someone to something or preparing them for something difficult. In my case He was calling me to intense prayer as we entered a difficult time of transition for our church in which I would later unexpectedly be asked to play a major role I couldn’t have handled without complete dependence and trust in God.
Now I am learning to depend on Him and trust Him even when He seems distant and I rarely see how He is using me. I get only glimpses that encourage me not to give up. Mostly I continue in my calling to prayer never knowing what difference my prayers may be making. I won’t really know this side of heaven.
I came to know the Lord when I was 17 and diagnosed with anorexia and realized I couldn’t fight this disease alone, I battled this illness for five years, I am 22 years old now and am on a path of remission. I have felt God’s presence with me through many trials and many celebrations. I am at a place now where I feel like I owe God to thanks for his everlasting love as I have sinned for my choices, and mistakes throughout the years, with anorexia came depression and self injury. Right now I do not feel God’s presence and feel empty however anorexia no longer runs my life. I am just desperately searching to find God’s presence, because without him I am not complete but I know He is there but I just do not feel Him and feel like I have let God down even though I won the fight that I wasn’t supposed to survive.