I’m naturally inclined to make decisions based on my feelings, so I’m familiar with the struggle of not feeling God and not knowing what to do about it. It’s something that has pushed me to grow in my faith and understanding of who God is and how He works in my life.
I became discouraged in my walk with Jesus a couple of years ago because I wasn’t feeling Him with me when I sat down for a devotional time. I didn’t feel like He was speaking to me or moving in my life. Because I relied so heavily on my feelings to tell me what’s true, I became somewhat disillusioned with the idea of a personal relationship with God. How could I know that God is real and with me if I don’t feel Him there? How could I keep investing in a relationship that I didn’t feel great one hundred percent of the time?
When we follow Jesus, it’s not going to feel good all the time. In fact, suffering is a part of our calling as followers. What Jesus does promise is He will be with us. He will be with us through it all and provide sufficient grace to follow Him. Because Jesus suffered everything that we as humans suffer, we can trust that He empathizes with us and is with us in our pain. The hard part for us is knowing what to do when we don’t feel butterflies and warm fuzzy feelings all the time.
When I don’t feel God, it’s easy for me to fall into doubt and fear. Does God really love me? Has He really called me to live out this lifestyle? Is He real? What I’ve been learning is that these feelings or thoughts of doubt don’t have lead me away from God. I have a choice in how I respond to these doubts and questions, and if my desire is to draw closer to God in all things, even when I don’t feel it or feel Him, then I can choose to bring these doubts to God.
I heard Pastor Heather Zempel of National Community Church recently say that going to God when we have doubts demonstrates great faith; it’s when we choose to run away from God in our doubts that we enter into unbelief. That was pretty significant to realize. It’s OK to have doubts and not feel God all the time. That doesn’t mean He’s not real, that my faith isn’t real or that He’s not with me. It just means that I have to choose to talk to God about it, who I already know is completely good and whose love for me is perfect. When I don’t feel God, I have to choose to believe in what God’s word says anyway, because what I’m feeling isn’t always an accurate gauge of truth. Blane Young, on staff with me at Chi Alpha at American University, frequently quotes Jon Bloom, saying that emotions are a gauge of what we’re experiencing but are not a guide.
It’s hard when I don’t feel God, because it can cause me to doubt His role in my life or even His existence at times. When I don’t feel Him, I need to press into what I know is true and what is written as true. Even if I don’t feel like those things are true, I have to choose to believe with my mind that they are the reality of this world and my life.
Encouraging Bible Passages
Jesus speaking to His disciples: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:20
God speaking to Israel: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
– Isaiah 41:10