Jan

23

2013

Lore Ferguson|10:00 PM CT

When He Feels Far Off

"He is near."

I say that a lot these days. In the hallway. In class. At my kitchen table last night while a candle flickers, light playing off our faces. I say it to convince others, but I say it to convince myself too.

He is near.

He is near because his Word says he is near. Because he is Immanuel, God with us. Because he came to earth as a baby wrapped in rags and humility. He is near because he was a suffering servant, drinking a cup that wasn't taken from him, even when he asked. He is near because he walked through the valley, in the shadow of his own death. He is near because he is God, encompassing, creating, drawing, loving, shepherding. He is near not because we feel his nearness, but because he says he is near.

Take this comfort if God feels far off:

1. His nearness is not a feeling, it is a truth. 

"The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry." Psalm 34:15

We may be in the same room with one another, not touching, but we can usually feel presence. But what about those times when you don't feel that closeness? In my office my chair faces away from the door, so my co-workers like to startle me. Sometimes I don't know someone is standing there for a long time. I can't feel their presence, but it doesn't change the truth that they are standing there, feet behind me.

When we feel far from God it is important to note that our feelings cannot be trusted. Being apart from God is not a place where we will be sitting in truth. God cannot be far off. He is omniscient (having infinite knowledge), omnipotent (holding unlimited power), omnipresent (present everywhere). That is the truth. Our feelings are important, but they are important mainly to God, and that is the most important thing to know when we feel far from him.

2. We know it's true because his Word can be trusted.

"For the word of the LORD is true, and all his work is done in faithfulness." Psalm 33:4

When we doubt our feelings, when it seems he is not coming through, not answering us, or has turned a cold shoulder, it is time for us to first confess those emotions to him. He is not surprised by our doubt. He is not scrambling for plan B. He is not trying to sweep up the pieces of our lives. He is God, and we know that because his Word says he is God, and words, right there, in that beautiful book, breathed by the Spirit and recorded for us, can be trusted. Dreams, emotions, prophetic words, others, feelings---these fail. His Word does not fail.

3. We can trust his Word because his Word does not return void.

"So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11

God cannot be mocked. No, even more, he will not be mocked. He won't stand for it. So neither will his Word. That may seem jeering and standoffish, but if we come a bit closer I think we will see that promise as a warm blanket. That promise means that he is for us, his children, his interest. That promise means that he is deeply involved in our cares and our feelings as they concern him. Why? Because he won't be mocked. He won't be standing there on that final day wondering what went wrong. That means we're safe---we may feel unsafe, but if you're his child, you're safe. He's got this.

Why?

Because he is near.

Lore Ferguson is a writer whose deepest desire is to adorn the gospel in everything she says and does. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and is a covenant member at The Village Church. Lore writes regularly at Sayable.net, and you can follow her on Twitter @loreferguson.

  • Mark

    Perhaps it would be wise to quote more scripture that actually talks about His nearness? And shouldnt it be articulated that there are people that are cut of from the favorable presence of God? Basically, the ones for whom His wrath still rests upon.

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  • Mike Carpenter

    @Mark. While more nearness Scripture certainly could be an add, like Joshua 1:9, I didn't think the encouragement of the post lost its impact. Also, while it is scripturally true that there are those who are still under the wrath of God, it is unlikely that those individuals are struggling with feeling far away from God and therefore wouldn't even be reading this post. I was encouraged.

  • http://sayable.net Lore Ferguson

    @mark,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I see your point in using more scripture that spoke of God's nearness, but if you've ever spent a prolonged season where you felt far from God, often times it's not those scriptures that bring hope. For example, if someone has trouble understanding the meaning of a word, what is not helpful is to give them numerous examples of sentences containing that word. No, we give them a definition utilizing other words that illuminate the word itself.

    Also, my pastor done trained me good ;) In my church whenever we talk about the promises of God to His children, we use the words, "...to His children," or "...to those He's called to Himself," etc. I did that in this post as well in the last paragraph very intentionally.

    Hope that helps!

  • http://tylerceason.blogspot.com/ Tyler Eason

    I thought this was really encouraging. It is such challenge to live on truth as opposed to feelings. Nearness is a truth to believe even when it is not a present feeling. And the believing of that truth is the only thing that can give rise to the sense of nearness we all long for. Thank your for your reminder to dwell on the truths that God has revealed about themselves.

  • http://www.redemptionblog.com Gerin St. Claire

    I loved this post, Lore!

    "He will not be mocked. He won't stand for it."

    This is a great reminder. It actually honors God when we take him at his word. I sometimes forget that, as if it were humility to think that God has been repelled by my sin... in reality, my false piety is really a subtle rejection of his grace. It is better to trust him and receive his acceptance, offered in Christ... better for me, and more honoring to him.

  • http://www.heritagechurch.com Hoy Kim

    Regarding the feelings of the nearness of God: I like to think of our love relationship with God much like the three sides of a triangle representing the whole of what love is and how it is experienced in relationships. One side can be called "Romance". A second side "Companionship". The third and final side "Commitment". Very early in our love relationships we are very much living on the excitement of "Romance" thus that side of triangle is much larger than the rest. As the relationship continues, "Romance" will often subside and the other sides of the triangle begin to develop. Typically the long term relationships find "Commitment" and "Companionship" to be larger than "Romance". The trouble most people run into is their only understanding of what love is often rests on "Romance" alone because that is what can be "felt". So when one does not "feel" nearness or love there is often a questioning of it's continued presence. I hope this understanding of love and the feeling of nearness is helpful for some. Thanks for allowing me share.

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  • Rachel Worthy Steen

    So very true.

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