Have you sometimes stopped and wondered, Where is God? I believe in him, but I can’t feel his love or his presence. I am sure you’re not alone with this, many of us have struggled with this feeling that God is off somewhere.
Is he really with me today? How can I be sure that he loves me? After all the three greatest words in the New Testament are found in 1 John 4:16, “God is love”.
Simple words, and yet powerful enough to change your life dramatically. But reading those three words or thinking about its truth doesn’t always translate into actually feeling his love. Have a read sometime of Psalm 88 where Heman the Ezrahite was in the darkest depths of despair. He felt abandoned and forgotten by God.
In my Bible it has the heading “A Prayer when you can’t find the way”:
Each morning I pray to you, Lord.
Why do you reject me?
Why do You turn from me?
My friends and neighbours have turned against me because of You,
and now darkness is my only companion” (Psalm 88:13-14;18).
In Psalm 13:1 King David even cried out:
How long O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
When It’s Difficult to Feel the Love of God
I have a sense that many people have trouble feeling God’s love, but they don’t feel free to talk about it. There could be a sense of failure, so they keep quiet putting on a brave front or pretence. Emptiness has overwhelmed their heart (maybe yours today) and left a void inside they can’t explain. And sometimes they wonder if there’s any point trying to be a committed Christian anymore. If you feel like giving up on God, hang on, he hasn’t given up on you.
Let me say: we live in a fallen world. Nothing works right, including our emotions. Sometimes our perceptions malfunction. Sometimes we can sense that there are feelings deep in our souls but we can’t access them. Life can be like a radio, back in the old days before FM and digital, with a broken antenna, unable to pick up the radio signals that are present in the room. We can’t receive them.
Sometimes we shut down our feelings after a painful experience or trauma, believing that it just hurts too much, and we make a private vow to not feel anything. Maybe the trauma of losing your father or mother wounded you and shaped you forever, and you don’t want to get hurt again. I don’t know for sure, of course.
God Can Heal Our Broken Heart
The good news is that God is able to heal broken receivers, broken emotions. We need to give ourselves permission to open ourselves up to both the negative and the positive emotions that are part of life, and ask God to bring healing to our broken heart. Many people say that when they renounced their inner vow to not feel anything, God gradually restored their ability to feel again.
The truth is that God loves you even when you don’t feel anything. His love for you is solid and safe all the time, and does not rely on how we feel. Really, feelings can easily deceive us—they come and go. We shouldn’t depend on them. The weather changes, people change, our feelings change. But God remains dependable forever.
If we’re angry at God, it’s really hard to feel his love because the anger gets in the way. I know some people who are very angry at God, and somehow their lives are in damage control. No wonder they never feel his love. But the amazing thing is he can take every piece of pain and redeem it, and bring something new into our lives. It may take time, but he will do it.
Different people have different ways of experiencing God’s love.
Look around you at creation. Stop and take in the evidence of his love for you. Be on the lookout for unexpected ways that God says to you, I love you.