“This is my prayer in the desert, when all that’s within me feels dry. This is my prayer in my hunger and need- my God is the God who provides.” –Desert Song: Hillsong United
Moment of honesty: I don’t feel God all the time.
You may be wondering, as someone who’s writing devotionals to encourage others in their faith, shouldn’t I always feel Him? While I would love to get to the point where my faith is so strong that I feel the Lord all the time, that’s not where I am right now, and you know what? That’s okay.
Now let me clarify: I’m not encouraging you to settle in your relationship with the Lord. You should always seek to grow and continue the process of sanctification. But you’re not a “bad Christian” and you’re not going to go to hell if you don’t always feel the Lord.
There are many instances in the Bible where God’s people could not feel His presence- even some of the greatest church leaders! Isaiah struggled with this, as he cried out, “You have hidden your face from us!” (Isaiah 64:1-7). Right before Gideon destroyed the Midianite army, he asked, “If the Lord is really with us…where are all His wonderful deeds like the ones our fathers recounted us?” (Judges 6:13). After David was anointed as the future king of Israel, he had to wait several years until anything happened. Think of Joseph when he was in slavery! How many times do you think he cried out to the Lord, asking Him why he had to go through these trials, without reply? All throughout the Bible are stories of believers who have had to walk by faith, not by sight, as they go through “desert” times in their lives. The important thing is that they continued to trust the Lord, even though it wasn’t easy, despite their feelings or lack thereof.
I think our culture and even the Church has accepted the misconception that if you can’t feel the Lord all the time, you’re not a good Christian. We’ve put too much of an emphasis on the emotional aspect of our relationship with God. While feeling the presence of the Lord is definitely part of our faith, it is only a fraction of it. As with any good relationship, it is based on more than just the emotion and feelings. It relies upon commitment, trust, communication, spending time together, and many other components.
A perfect example of a relationship that requires more than just emotions to sustain it, is marriage. If you get married, you’re not always going to feel “in love” with your husband- there will be times where you can barely stand him! But it’s the deeper part of love, the commitment, that keeps people together despite their changing emotions. Love is more than a feeling; it’s a verb. It’s an action that is still carried through even though the feelings aren’t always there. I’m sure your parents don’t always “feel” like loving you, but they still show their love by taking care of you and meeting your needs. Loving despite our emotions allows relationships to thrive in both the good and the bad.
In the same way, we don’t always “feel” the love of God or feel like loving Him, but we’re still called to be faithful despite our feelings. Even when we go through those “desert” times and can’t hear His voice, we can still show our love through our actions. Do your devotions, pray fervently, commune with other believers, go to church, and pour into His word. Continue to devote yourself to Him, even though you don’t feel or hear Him. He’s using this time to refine, grow, and teach you. Trust in God’s promises, that He’s always there and prepares the way before you, over your feelings.
Raelene Harris is a spicy as they come- in her faith, her hobbies, and her style! A lover of the arts and aesthetics, she seeks to use her passions such as photography and music to glorify God and build relationships. As a 2017 intern, she is thrilled with the opportunities to expand His kingdom.