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The Struggle: Are You There?
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The Struggle: Are You There?

“God, yesterday You felt so close to me I could practically hear You. But today You seem light years away and I feel like my words are just bouncing off the walls. Are You even here?”

[LINK] We probably all know that God says He’s always with us and He’s always listening to us. We know that’s true because of verses like: “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20); “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5); and [God] will listen to the prayers of the destitute, He will not reject their pleas (Psalm 102:17 NLT). But at the same time, all of us have probably had times with God when all of those verses felt like nice—but empty—thoughts. So what do we do when the truth doesn’t feel true?

[STORY] In a recent interview with YW magazine, singer/songwriter Joy Williams had this to say: >br>“I probably had at least one whole year of not feeling like God spoke to me at all. It was so frustrating . . . I used to think that I needed to be emotionally tied to the Lord in order to feel like I was in Him and He was in me. So I think God, in a loving way but in a hard way, said to me: ‘Look, your relationship with Me is not about emotion. Just like your marriage can’t be based on whether you’re happy with your husband all the time. This is a commitment. I am committed to you.’
“I wouldn’t ever say that silence [from God] is a fabulous feeling. But sometimes those silent moments are the moments that you go deeper with God than you ever expected to go. Now I feel more tied to the Lord. [It’s based] less on emotion and more on a deep, gut appreciation and fear of Him.”

[THINK] God gives us both emotions and knowledge of the truth of His Word. When we don’t feel like God is there, we need to rely on what we know to be true: that He really is. When our feelings contradict God’s truth, they always need to be overridden by what we know. We have to make a conscious choice to believe what’s true instead of relying on our feelings.

It’s tough to wrestle that out. It’s easier to trust your feelings, stop talking with God, and walk away. But when you grapple with it, you’re saying to God: “I’m going to stick with You no matter how I feel because we’re in a committed relationship.” That’s living out true, real love. It’s commitment based on gut-level dedication, and God will honor that.

[LIVE] So how do we override our feelings with the truth? We’ll shoot straight here: Sometimes it’s just a flat-out choice. There’s no magic formula or any process to walk through. It’s just mentally deciding, “God, I know You’re here. I don’t feel like You’re here, but You say You are, and I choose to believe that’s true, and I’m going to act on it and spend time with You.” Your feelings that day may never swing in line with the truth. Sometimes you just have to move forward. You have to hang on to the truth, remind yourself of it, and find the backup you need to support it. The backup is in the Bible. When you’re feeling like God’s not there, the Psalms are a great place to visit (David and the other psalmists felt that God was AWOL a lot). Old Testament stories that show God behind the scenes—but very present—are great places to camp out too.
There will be times when you feel like God isn’t near. It’s part of living in a fallen world. But when you spend time with God without feeling His presence, your actions will prove that your commitment to God is rooted in something much more solid than emotions. It’s rooted in love.

[NXT LVL] God rewards those who earnestly seek Him—even when they can’t feel Him. Read Hebrews 11:6.

Picture by Chris Potter

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Reprinted with permission from YouthWalk magazine, © 2006 Walk Thru the Bible, Inc. To learn more about YouthWalk, visit www.youthwalk.org

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