Living on the West coast of Florida has its distinct advantages. For instance, the most beautiful sunsets your eyes have ever seen occur almost nightly. In fact, people crowd the beaches nightly to watch them. There are also beautiful sunrises. I love to walk early in the morning and wait for the sun to rise and welcome the day, it is stunning.The beauty of the sunrise reminds me of one of my favorite questions in Scripture. It is found in Job 38:12, it is God speaking to Job and the Sovereign says, “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place?” (NASB) To me, it is an invitation to the day and a reminder that God is Sovereign over all, including my day. There is however, the rare occasion when the cloud cover is so heavy that I cannot see the sun rise. And yet, I know it does. I know it will faithfully rise and set every day whether I see it, notice it, or feel it.
Have you ever been in a season when you felt that way about God? You know He is “out there” but you can’t seem to see Him, notice Him, or feel Him. Maybe you are in a season like that right now. If you are, know that you are not alone, you are not a faith weakling, you are simply . . . human. Let’s be honest, when the invitation to the Christian life is made, it is made as an invitation to relationship. Being in a relationship connotes feeling. So when we don’t “feel” His presence it can feel a little like a “bait and switch”. Have you ever felt that way?
If so, you probably relate to Job’s frame of mind, “If He passed by me, I wouldn’t see Him; if He went by, I wouldn’t recognize Him.” (Job 9:11, CSB) Or maybe you have felt this, “I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer. I stand before you, but you don’t even look.” (Job 30:20, NLT)
So, what can we do when God doesn’t seem near? Here are 7 practices to help you through this season:
Rehearse What’s True
Quite often in seasons of being stuck, the cause is theological and spiritual — how we see God or don’t see God. Rehearsing and remembering what we know that we know that we know is essential to understanding the faithfulness of God when He seems silent. The unwavering truth about the nature and character of God is the proverbial knot we tie when we are at the end of our ropes. Not too many months ago, feeling at the end of my rope, I wrote out 5 “knots” — things I knew from Scripture that were absolutely true whether I felt it or not. With regularity, I read those scriptures, prayed through them and spoke them out loud so my own ears could hear.
What are your knots? Need some help getting started? Try these:
Psalm 139:7, “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.” (NLT)
Romans 8:35-39, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NLT)
Job 19:25-27, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see Him for myself. Yes, I will see Him for myself. Yes, I will see Him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” (NLT)
Lamentations 3:20-24, “I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” (NLT)
Like the sun rising behind cloud cover, these truths remind me that God IS present, regardless of how I feel.
There are days when voiceless creation speaks louder than any other audible voice in my day. Find beauty and drink it in. Let the beauty of creation remind you of all that is good and beautiful in the world. Let it remind you of the goodness of God. The Psalmist said this, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their work to all the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4, NLT)
Create a playlist of all your favorite hymns, songs and spiritual songs. Let the chords, the melodies and the lyrics minister to your soul. Sing along or pray through the lyrics as they are sung!
Get Back to Basics
Remember back to a time when your love for the Lord was fresh. Remember back to where you were and what you were doing the last time you did feel Him near. What were your spiritual practices? How are they different now? Get back to the basics and simplicity of listening, praying, resting, reading, and waiting.
Lifestyle check: Do your choices align with the God you want to know more intimately?
Sometimes we don’t feel the nearness of God because we are living in disobedience to His Word. Is there something we need to start doing or stop doing? Is there something we need to confess or someone we need to confess to?
Enlist the Prayer Support of Trusted Friends
We were never meant to live this life alone. We were created to be “with,” created for community — biblical community. Talk to your trusted friends, let them pray with you and for you. Lean on their belief and faith until yours is stronger. We are stronger together.
Finally, if you feel you have done all you know to do time and time again, consider speaking to a licensed counselor, pastoral counselor, or spiritual director. There are times when we all need help navigating our emotional landscape. I highly encourage you to gift yourself a session or two with a professional. The help helps.
The sun rose this morning behind heavy cloud cover. I can’t see it, I can’t feel but I know it’s there. Friend, behind your heavy cloud cover, He is with you, He is near you, He is for you and He loves you so. He will not leave you. He promised.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through Lifeway Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. “I was a wounded, lonely Midwest farm girl until the Divine Romancer swept me off my feet. I want to steward my story well so that others can find Him in their stories and be fully satisfied.” Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live on Florida’s West Coast and are both on staff at Bayside Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the Lifeway resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.