God Is There, Even When He Seems Distant
“I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed. But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.” (Job 23:8-10, NLT)
God has promised repeatedly, “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5 GNT).
Yet God has not promised that you will always feel his presence. In fact, God acknowledges that sometimes he hides his face (see Isaiah 45:15).
There are times when he appears to be missing-in-action in your life.
This is a normal part of the testing and maturing of your friendship with God. Every Christian goes through it at least once. It is painful and confusing, but it is absolutely vital for the development of your faith.
This knowledge gave Job hope when he could not feel God’s presence in his life. He said, “I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed. But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold” (Job 23:8-10 NLT).
When God seems distant, you may feel that he is angry with you or is disciplining you for some sin. In fact, sin does disconnect you from intimate fellowship with God. You grieve God’s Spirit and diminish your fellowship with him by disobedience, conflict with others, busyness, friendship with the world, and other sins (see Psalm 51; Ephesians 4:29-30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; Jeremiah 2:32; 1 Corinthians 8:12; James 4:4).
But often this feeling of abandonment or separation from God has nothing to do with sin. It is a test of faith, one all believers must face: Will you continue to love, trust, obey, and worship God, even when you have no sense of his presence or visible evidence of his work in your life?
The most common mistake Christians make in worship today is seeking an experience rather than seeking God. They look for a feeling, and if that feeling happens, they conclude that they have worshiped.
But God often removes feelings so you won’t depend on them. Instead, he wants to draw you into a deeper relationship with him.
Talk It Over
Why do you think God tests your faith? What does he want to accomplish in your life by doing that?
If you’re experiencing a time in your life when you do not feel God’s presence, how do you think God is using it to grow your faith?
This devotional is adapted from The Purpose Driven Life. The new, expanded edition is available here.
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This devotional © 2022 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.