Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is God Even There?

By Jill Daniels
Have you ever felt far from God?
Like you weren’t hearing from Him or His presence just wasn’t as strong as it used to be?

I’ve been there.

In 2010 I went to Rome, Italy with Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) for a six-week mission trip to reach out to college students at universities in the city. I was so excited to experience God in a new way and to get to go with my two best friends! I knew I was going to grow closer to God as I dug deeper into His word and spent more time sharing His good news with others!

Although, as the weeks went on in Rome I was feeling further and further from God. It confused me since I was spending so much time with Him. I didn’t know what was going on.

Looking back now, I know myself well enough to tell you that the reason I was feeling far from God was because I didn’t have time alone to spend with Him, away from noise and people. I experience God the most through silence and nature. To be in a big city with people around everywhere, and not a field or lake in sight, was hard. This realization was even harder when living near Chicago for two years!

But through that time in Rome, when I didn’t know what was going on or why I wasn’t feeling connected to God, I clung to a couple of verses. Let me explain why they comforted my soul so greatly!

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 

5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
(James 4:1-10)

God spoke to me through these verses saying that he was still there! He knew I was reaching out to him, and even though I couldn’t feel him, he was right there next to me. I could read these verses and know that if I was pursuing God I could know that he was pursuing me, too.

These verses have since been a great comfort during times when I didn’t know the next step God wanted me to take in life. During those times when I’m not sure where God is or where he is taking me, I can rest in the fact that if I draw near to God he will draw near to me!

Also isn’t it sweet that God is jealous for us? He is jealous for the Spirit he has made to dwell in us. In my Study Bible notes it describes the character of a “jealous God” as one “who appropriately yearns for his own honor and the loyal devotion of his people.” God wants us to honor him and be devoted to him! How joyful he must be when we are honoring him and worshiping him with our lives!

Another set of verses I clung to during that time was Romans 8:35-39:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulations, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor power, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Bam! Wow. Nothing, at all, can separate us from the love of God in our lives. If we believe in Christ as our Savior and Lord who died for our sins so we could live in communion with God again, nothing can separate us from His love!

These words, and the response that comes from really internalizing these words, made me feel loved and known. Nothing on this planet can separate me from God’s love. Not even a city full of people can drown out God in my life! It might be harder for me to feel or hear Him, but the comfort in knowing that he couldn’t be gone was priceless!

These two truths--that God is near and nothing can separate me from His love--are two truths that brought me through a couple of times where I wasn’t feeling God at all. My hope is that if you are, or have gone through, a similar time that you can cling to these truths as well!

Dwell today in the fact that God is near and nothing can separate you from His love!

God, I thank you for giving us your word to go to in times when we might not be feeling you or hearing what you are trying to tell us! I love knowing that you speak to us through your Word! Thank you for the truths that you are near to us and we can never be separated from your love. Thank you for comforting us during these times. We love you Lord! 

Amen.

[This post first appeared on Radical Everyday Living, January 20, 2014 / Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.]

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