So I have been feeling really far away from God reasently. I've tried praying and reading my Bible but nothing is changing. Do you have any advise?
A couple thoughts about this:
I have felt like this before. MANY times, and sometimes... for years.
I've thought, "Maybe I'm sinning so much, and maybe that's the problem." And I had people even questioning whether I was really a Christian at all. But I don’t think that was it. I was honestly calling out to God for forgiveness, honestly calling out to him for some kind of sign, or reassurance that he was the there – all that.
And you know what? I'm a stronger believer now.
Turns out, the "feelings" element of our relationship is a wonderful thing, but FAITH is not founded on that. If we're dependent on it, we begin to mistake feelings for reality. We are called to actually TRUST God.
You can hear the words "trust God" or "trust Jesus", and they start to lose their meaning after awhile. But now, now that you have no warm, God-is-here feelings, you really DO have to trust him, and what he has promised you. "I am with you, always," Jesus said.
Always. He's with you, whether you feel it or not.
I even think, now, that the loss of that God-is-close feeling helped me understand him more, and my faith is more mature.
Some of my "heroes", the people I admire for their faith, have gone through the same thing, sometimes for decades.
This is not a reason to despair. It IS a reason to re-think what a relationship with God might look like. Remember, God blesses us in many ways, not just feelings. And – this is REALLY important – God wants us to want him for HIMSELF, not for the stuff he gives us.
As a father, I "get" this. I want my kids to love ME, their loving dad, and not just for the fact that I give them stuff like, say, food, a phone, college, or even warm, protected feelings. I want them to love me not for what they get, but because they freely can love someone besides themselves.
And THAT, of course, is real love. If they love ME, I'm thrilled. In our relationship with God, valuing his GIFTS higher than God, himself, is actually idolatry. He's a jealous lover. And he's good. He knows the "stuff", even feelings, aren't, ultimately, what we need. What we need is him.
So be honest with him, call out to him, even be open about your anger or frustration. But TRUST him, and know that he may be taking you to a place you haven't been before.
One last thing. Someone gave me a brief example on this: If I'm in a large room with you, and I'm yelling our conversation, you can hear me just fine. But if I whisper, just barely whisper, you can only hear me…
...if you come closer.
I think there's something to that. And I think there's something maturing about just KNOWING God is good, being reminded by other believers that he is good, and serving people, even without the feelings.
Okay, one REALLY last thing. I mean it this time, since I have a meeting to go to: Our feelings are just plain untrustworthy, anyway.
They're dependent on so many things that have NOTHING to do with the subject of our feelings. Like, am I sleeping enough? Have I eaten well today? Am I hydrated? Have I had too much (or not enough!) coffee? Am I exercising? What's happening to me, physically, right now? Am I tired? Have other things happened that have been really stressful, like a break-up, or a move, or a death in the family, or even something good, but big and stress-inducing, like a recent trip? Many reasons to be suspicious of our feelings.
So many factors. Everything changes.
He does not.
God bless you, Maddie!