The Lord has hidden himself from his people, but I trust him & place my hope in him. –Isaiah 8:17 (TEV)
The feeling of abandonment has nothing to do with sin, it is a test of faith—Will we continue to love, trust, obey, & worship God, even when we have no sense of his presence or visible evidence of his work in our life?
The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, & loving him when he seems distant. “Any relationship involves times of closeness & times of distance, & in a relationship with God, no matter how intimate, the pendulum will swing from one side to the other”.
To mature our friendship, God will test it with periods of seeming separation—“the ministry of absence”, “the winter of the heart”. It is painful, but vital to the development of our faith. David complained of God’s absence: “Lord, why are you standing aloof & far away? Why do you hide when I need you the most? Why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain so distant? Why do you ignore my cries for help? Why have you abandoned me?” However, we must remember God has promised “I will never leave you nor forsake you”; God hasn’t promised we will always feel his presence.
Worship shouldn’t be seeking an experience, but rather seeking God.
God is always present even when we are unaware of him, & his presence is too profound to be measured by mere emotion. God wants us to trust him, rather than feel him—Faith, not feelings, pleases God. The situations that will stretch our faith most will be when life falls apart & God is nowhere to be found. On a single day, Job lost everything, & for 37 chapters, God said nothing!
How do we praise God when we don’t understand what’s happening in our lives and God is silent? How do we stay connected in a crisis without communication? How do you keep your eyes on Jesus when they’re full of tears?
–Tell God exactly how you feel. Did you know that admitting your hopelessness to God can be a statement of faith?
–Focus on who God is—his unchanging nature. “Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light”. When Job’s life fell apart & God was silent, Job found things he could praise God for: That he is good & loving, he is all-powerful, he notices every detail of my life, he is in control, he has a plan for my life, he will save me.
–Trust God to keep his promises. During times of spiritual dryness, he is taking us to a deeper level of maturity. A friendship based on emotion is shallow. Don’t be troubled by trouble—God is still for you, even when you don’t feel it.
When we feel abandoned by God yet continue to trust him, we worship him in the deepest way.
-Remember what God has already done for you. Jesus gave up everything so we could have everything. He died so that we can live forever. That alone is worthy of our continual thanks & praise.
Never again should we wonder what we have to be thankful for.
Question to Consider: How can I stay focused on God’s presence, especially when he feels distant? I don’t feel Him distant, and for this I feel lucky. When I was 16 and my father died, I was angry at the doctors for not doing their job, surprisingly didn’t direct that anger to God. I prayed to God to give us strength to forge on as a family, felt my father’s presence guiding us in our difficult moments. I have been grateful for my faith, because it gave our core family the strength to continue. Perhaps loosing a loved parent at such a young age, made me realize I should be thankful for all I have & for my mom who kept our family united. There are so many things in life to be grateful for, how can I feel God distant?
* Weekly we will be writing about what inspires us from each consecutive chapter of Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. If you read along with us, please share your inspirations. There’s no need to catch up, just jump right in.