What to Do When God Feels Different

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WHAT TO DO WHEN GOD FEELS DISTANT

By John Bevere

A few years into being a Christian, I went through a very tough season. When I first got saved, it felt like a honeymoon. Life was a near constant spiritual high. When I went to pray, I felt God’s presence. When I opened His Word, I could feel it coming alive to my heart. His presence seemed near. His love felt tangible. I could see Him moving all around me in profound ways. It was amazing.

But then, one day, it seemed everything shifted. Where it used to feel like I could find God at every turn, it felt like I walked around a corner and suddenly, He wasn’t there. I started experiencing difficulty finding His presence or hearing His voice.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was entering into a wilderness season—a time where God refines us and prepares us for His promises. Often, in these seasons, it can feel like God’s presence is distant. It can even feel like a total  absence  of  God!  Maybe you heard God’s voice and stepped out in obedience, but then, when you felt you needed His  presence  the  most,  He  seemed  a  million miles  away.

Because it was difficult for me to perceive God’s presence, it felt like He had abandoned me. In my immaturity, I had interpreted my lack of sensing His presence as His absence, but this was far from the truth.

To show you what I mean, we need to explore the two manifestations  of  God’s  presence.  The  first  one  is  based  on  these words  from  Scripture,  “I  will  never  leave  you  nor  forsake you” (Hebrews  13:5  NKJV).  This  is  the  omnipresence of  God.  It’s  what  King  David  refers  to:  “If  I  ascend  into heaven,  You are there;  If  I  make  my  bed  in hell,  behold, You are  there”  (Psalm  139:8  NKJV).  If  we  believe  what Scripture  says  and  we  trust  God,  then  the  reality  is  that no matter  how  we  feel  or  what  happens,  God  is  with  us.

The  other  presence  of  God,  which  all  of  us  love  and  is also a  part  of  the  Christian  life,  is  the  manifest  presence.  To “manifest”  means  to  bring  out  of  the  unseen  and  into  the seen,  out  of  the  unheard  and  into  the  heard,  out  of  the  unknown  and  into  the  known.  It’s  when  God  makes  Himself real  to  our  actual  physical  senses.  It’s  wonderful  to  enjoy this  encounter,  which  can  happen  during  worship,  private prayer,  on  a  walk  through  the  forest,  in  common  activities of daily  life—in  perhaps  an  infinite  number  of  ways.

But when God’s manifest presence is hard to find, don’t make the mistake I did and assume it means He’s abandoned you. I’ve walked nearly four decades with God, and I can assure you that whether or not you feel His presence, He has not left you. That is His promise.

So  when you  are  spiritually  hungry  and  thirsty  in  the wilderness,  if God  doesn’t  come  and  bless  you  with  His beautiful, breathtaking  presence,  just  relax. Lean  into His  promise—the  main  one  being, “I  will  never  leave  you  nor  forsake  you.” Even if you don’t feel or sense His presence, know that He is faithful and just take Him at His word. His nearness, felt or not, will see you through.

If you got something out of this post, I encourage you to grab a copy of my newest book, God, Where Are You?! where I dive much deeper into how to handle season of waiting. I really believe it will help you find answers to tough questions and will be a source of strength and encouragement for you as you seek to navigate tough times well!

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