Why do I feel nearer and far from God at time?
Hi Gwen and welcome to Connect. Thanks for the opportunity to think about and discuss such a personal question. I’m wondering if there’s more to your question than I might at first assume. So, I was wondering if you could perhaps share a bit more about what you mean with respect to feeling nearer to God as well as feeling far from him? What do you mean by each of those as they pertain to your life?
If you can get a copy of The Autobiography of George Muller, Whitaker House published the paperback I read. You will find how one man “ Rested securely in God’s loving care. “ He met regularly in prayer with his Maker. He was close to God in mind and spirit. God is Good to All. Fred
This is a great question, and one that I think has troubled every follower of Jesus Christ at one point or another. Let’s start by deconstructing your question a bit. It rests squarely on the verb, “feels.” You are making an existential claim that sometimes your perceptions informs you of God’s “nearness.” At other times your perceptions either inform you differently, or that there is an absence of whatever you were previously sensing, which you then interpret as an “absence” of God’s presence. It all comes down to understanding the method of measurement you are using to determine what constitutes God’s presence and what constitutes God’s apparent absence.
For example, if I am using my emotional state as my verification method for God’s involvement with me then I am very quickly going to run into problems. My feelings are like the waves of the sea, sometimes calm, some times turbulent, but always in motion—thus the term “emotion.” Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one day, a day in which I am feeling very good and things seem to be going my way, that I should feel like God is nearby me. However, should I wake up the next day and perhaps I slept poorly due to a bad dream and I feel not quite myself and am tired and a bit irritable, and I begin to wonder; “where are you God? why am I feeling so troubled? Yesterday, I could tell you were here, but today, God you ditched me! Why?” Very quickly it becomes evident that a better more consistent method of evaluating God’s presence and involvement in my life is necessary.
Now, I do not wish to discount the value of the emotional dynamics of our relationship with Christ. These times of deep emotional connection are of paramount import to our spiritual health and well-being. However, they are wholly insufficient as the sole barometer for the status of our ever growing, and thus changing, relationship with our God. This is where reason, trust and faith come into play. As we grow in Christ we invariably come to a point where the emotion no longer carries us. At these moments it “feels” as if Christ is a million miles away, or more. Nevertheless, we must engage our reason and look at the evidences that He Himself has given to each of us that first lead us to believe. We must trust that these evidences are true. Finally, we must continue to step forward in faith, which is the enacting of our reason and trust, knowing that the One who said He is always with us, is not a liar, regardless of our feelings at any given moment (Mat. 28:20). I hope this is helpful to you. God bless.
Wow. I think that you are spot on here.
@Gwe As @BenIAm noted, feelings are subject to many influences and are not a solid foundation. Just like a relationship with a real person, we are not always going to feel that nearness, but we can always walk in obedience in faith that God will be faithful to His precious and great promises. You might also find the following threads helpful
Welcome Gwen, so happy to have you at RZIM Connect and glad you stepped in with a great question. This feeling can be common with Christians.
When reading these posts a picture came to mind.
It’s a very common scene. A father holding the seat of the bicycle and running behind his child so they won’t fall as they learn to ride. Then after a bit, while still running behind, the father let’s go to see if they will stay upright. Then he stops running and cheers as the child rides off. Finally the crash happens and the father comes running. (Because braking and turning are quite a different skill set!)
Some of our experiences with God can fall into this category. Sometimes to help us grow in faith and practice He’s just trying to see if we’ll walk in obedience (or to keep with the metaphor–ride in obedience) without His correcting/guiding hand right on us. This intentional letting go can feel like an intentional distancing.
We also need to recognize that sometimes when we feel distant from God, it’s because we’ve been walking away from God and not toward him. The term repent actually means turn. When we repent we turn back toward God. So feeling distant can mean we need to examine our heart and see if there’s something we need to repent of.
Now we aren’t always the best judge of when we need repentance. Personally I can rationalize just about anything in my favor. When you’re just not sure, try what David did in Psalm 139. Ask God: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” When we are sincere the Holy Spirit will help us see any areas of darkness that needs the light of Christ and a repentant heart.
A truth we need to hold onto is that God is unchanging. We change. Our relationship with Him changes. But He remains the same. And when we’re feeling a little disconnected we need to hold on to that truth until the feeling or circumstance passes. Even Jesus asked, “Why O God have you forsaken me,” and what followed that chain of events was the resurrection. So whatever we need to move beyond the promise is far more than we could ever ask or imagine.
Thanks for being a blessing to us in our community.
Thank you so much it makes me feel better about it.
I was very blessed as a child because I had an adult that absolutely delighted in me, it was my Grandfather. All children should have that, but unfortunately they do not.
He delighted in everything I did. I saw it in his smile and heard it in his laughter and chuckles. He spent time with me, played games with me, and for awhile he let me win, because that’s what older, wiser people do with young learners.
I delighted in pleasing him. I lived for it. When he went for a walk I wanted to join him. When he pulled weeds in the garden I was there to. Often pulling out the wrong things and then watching as he patiently replanted and explained the difference between the flowers or vegetables and the weeds.
I wasn’t perfect, but still I never doubted his absolute esteem for who I was. He saw in me all the potential of who I could become, all the adventures of life I had before me. I remember every afternoon I had to be quiet and left Granddad alone while he sat in his rocker, read his Bible and his devotional Upper Room booklet, and prayed. He wass the only example I really had of that intentional time with God.
My point of going down memory lane here is to tell you that’s exactly the relationship your heavenly Father wants with you. He delights in you. He sees all the potential of who you can be. The more time we spend in this relationship, the more we can trust and delight in the joys of our adoption as sons and daughters.
Be blessed, Gwen.