Living as a Christian Even When You Don’t Feel God Near
Has there ever been a time in your life when you didn’t “feel” like a Christian? Perhaps you didn’t feel God nearby. Or maybe you struggled with doubt and fears that you were really saved or that God was even listening to your prayers. When it comes to our identity in Christ, it is one thing to know who you are, but it’s another thing entirely to feel like a child of God. And trust me when I say that there will be times in our lives when we don’t feel like ourselves… when our feelings don’t match what we know to be true. So what do we do in these moments? How do we cope and change the way we feel?
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If someone were to ask me, I would say that I’ve been a Christian my whole life. My mother tells me that I accepted Jesus at the age of three, but I honestly don’t remember it. She knew I fully understood because I saw an old picture of myself in a photo album and said, “Look mom! That was me before I had Jesus in my heart!” I knew there was a difference in me, even though I was too young to explain it.
I grew up in a Christian home, attended a Christian school, and went to church most Sundays. God has always been a part of my life. But I will be honest in saying that I haven’t always walked in the truth of my identity in Him. There was a time in my life when I didn’t feel saved. I was living for myself. I was going through some struggles and honestly, I didn’t feel God nearby. But looking back, I know these “feelings” didn’t change the truth. I was a child of God. He still had His hand on my life, even though I couldn’t see it.
There are times in our lives when we don’t feel like ourselves. We don’t feel like God’s children. We don’t feel Him near. It is in these times when we must evaluate our situation. Do we feel this way because we walked away? Or is this a time in our lives that God is using to build our faith? Perhaps both?
When you walk away…
I’m reminded of the parable of the prodigal son. When he left home and squandered his inheritance, did he become anything less than a son? In other words, was there ever a time when the father wrote him off and forgot about him? This story illustrates God’s heart for His children. Even when we wander away from God, He is longing and waiting for our return. And not only that, but Jesus told us that He goes after the lost. He seeks us out. And when we return, there is joy in heaven! God doesn’t say “I told you so” or “How could you be so careless?” Rather, He welcomes us home with arms open wide.
When the enemy is trying to is steal your joy and peace…
There have been numerous times in my walk with God when I didn’t feel close to Him. I didn’t feel like His child. It even felt like He had forgotten about me. But the truth is that these were simply my feelings. They were not an accurate representation of the truth. If you have walked with God long, you know what I’m talking about. There are simply times when we pray and ask God, “Where are you?!” Even David spoke of such times in his life when he felt like God was far away.
How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? …But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me. – Psalm 13:1-2, 5-6
You see the truth is that God is always near. These feelings are just that… feelings. We must remember that we have an enemy. He loves to isolate us and make us feel alone. It’s one of his most used techniques to get us to question God and His love for us. But we must combat his lies with the truth. God is love. He loves His children unconditionally and deeply.
God will use these times in our lives to build our faith. When we choose to trust in Him even when we don’t feel Him near, our faith has a chance to grow.
God is always near. This is the truth, regardless of how we feel.
Rest in the truth that even when you don’t feel God near, He is always near.
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*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.
**Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash