Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Outpourings: Faith Versus Feelings

What do we do when God seems MIA?  
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The past week or so, I have risen in the morning to meet with God, only to feel like my prayers and efforts were bouncing off the ceiling.  I search for the words to speak, I attempt to sit still before Him--yet, His presence I cannot seem to feel or find in the midst of my searching.

Why is this?  Have you ever felt that God was nowhere to be found?

This is not the first time in my life that God has seemed distant.  It is a very real situation that many Jesus-followers experience.  So I think it's important that we reiterate Truth amidst the seemingly lonely and dry moments in our lives.  I would like to take excerpts straight from Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life to give us Scriptural guidance on the matter.

Warren writes that a sense of being distant from God is a healthy part of our relationship with Him.  When I read this, I was startled!  But Warren has a point, quoting Philip Yancey: '"Any relationship involves times of closeness and times of distance, and in a relationship with God, no matter how intimate, the pendulum will swing from one side to the other"...that's when worship gets difficult."

God tests our relationship with Him.  Do we rely on faith, or feelings when we interact with God?  Does our faith prove genuine, standing the test of seeming separation?  Will we fight to know God, despite how we feel?  

God never leaves us.  He never forsakes us.  That is His promise to us.  "But God has not promised "you will always feel my presence." In fact, God admits that sometimes he hides his face from us..." (Isaiah 45:15).  Warren says, "The most common mistake Christians make in worship today is seeking an experience rather than seeking God.  They look for a feeling, and if it happens, they conclude that they have worshiped.  Wrong!  In fact, God often removes our feeling so we won't depend on them.  Seeking a feeling, even the feeling of closeness to Christ, is not worship."

So, what do we do when God seems MIA?  Warren gives us four thoughts:

ONE: Tell God exactly how you feel.  Use David's heartfelt example, and do not hold back!  This actually reveals deep levels of trust in God's ability to listen and love you.

TWO: Focus on who God is--his unchanging nature.  God's character never changes, so rely on Him who is constant.

THREE: Trust God to keep his promises.  Rely on God's promises, not your emotions.  This is true worship.

FOUR: Remember what God has already done for you.  Consider Christ's death and suffering on the cross.  That alone is enough to be forever grateful.

What do you do when God seems MIA?  

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