Is God Really There?
Someone asked me a question this week - what do you do when you don’t feel like God is there?
We ask ourselves this question in many different ways. Why are you allowing this God? Don’t you see what is happening? Why don’t I feel your comfort? Why is this trial still here? Why don’t I see your hand in what’s happening? How could you possibly work this for good? Why does it feel as though my prayers hit the ceiling?
Why can’t I feel you here?
I took 24 hours to think about it before I wrote her back. Its a hard question and a complicated one so I wanted to explore it more here today. We know the Bible verses, ones like “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5 or Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
One of the most beautiful and poetic passages is in Psalm 139 - “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”
Its easy to gather from the Bible that God is always there, always working on the best for us. We could list 100 verses. And we would probably all say that we believe them. We know in our head that God is always there, always good.
But what about when we don’t feel it.
Oh if only we could always line up our emotions with our faith!
But they run away with us so often. I can have so much trouble controlling them. But I think this is the key:
We need to realize that we are not always our emotions. We have the choice to make our faith separate from our emotions. Easier said than done, I definitely know. But still possible.
It comes down to this. Do we have faith in God’s Word or not? It is so easy for me to believe the big things, like salvation and resurrection and creation and even a man being swallowed by a fish. Yet in a hard time, I can doubt the most basic of promises - that God is there and God is good. Although the Bible tells us this over and over in many ways and many books, it can be one of the hardest things to believe because we allow our emotions to overcome our logic and our faith.
So we have a choice to make. Do we decided to believe the Bible, or believe our heart? If you’re anything like me, your heart changes its mind five hundred times a day, so its not very reliable. But right after those verses in Hebrews, it tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Sounds a lot more reliable than my heart.
Doesn’t it seem that the answer to every questions comes back to some form of this? - believe God, take Him at His Word. Because the Scriptures carry in them the answer to every one of our problems. All we have to do is trust.
But what do we do with our emotions in the mean time? We can decide to believe, decide to trust, but our emotions can often rebel and refuse to follow suit. I really believe that the more we filter our emotions through our faith, the more our emotions will fall in line with what we believe. Its not a magic pill, but its a hard fought cycle that become easier over time. The more we chose our faith over our feelings, the less we will have those emotions that whisper lies to our heart. Lies that tell us God has abandoned us, when we know the opposite is true.
So as the week goes on and you find yourself listening to the lies you’re believing, remind yourself of the trustworthiness of God and His Word. He is always there, always working on your behalf. God is good. All the time.
“Faith is not an instinct. It certainly is not a feeling - feelings don't help much when you're in the lions' den or hanging on a wooden Cross. Faith is not inferred from the happy way things work. It is an act of will, a choice, based on the unbreakable Word of a God who cannot lie, and who showed us what love and obedience and sacrifice mean, in the person of Jesus Christ” ~ Elisabeth Elliot