When We Feel Abandoned
Read Job 23:10
"But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold."
- How do you know God is still there when you can't "feel" him?
- Most Christ-followers experience times when they are spiritually stuck and feel far from God's presence. What kinds of circumstances triggers these feelings for you?
- When we're stuck, we must remind ourselves that feelings are not the foundation of our faith. How do you think this can help? (Please explain).
In Job 23, we see Job struggling with his feeling that God had completely abandoned him. His words reflect the depths of his despair as he wondered where God was when he needed him most.
Most Christ followers can relate to Job's situation. In our research, we've found that Christians feel spiritually stuck or far from God about three months out of the year. The problem is so common that we (Arnie and Mike) wrote an entire book on the subject called Unstuck: Your Life. God's Design. Real Change.
What's interesting about Job's lament is that it contains rays of hope amid the pain. He acknowledged that he felt bitter, that he was groaning in despair, and that he couldn't perceive God's presence. Still he knew that God is all powerful and that after this trial he would "come out as gold."
Job's struggle appears to have stemmed from a conflict between his knowledge of God and his emotions. While our emotional experiences are real and can't just be dismissed, they are not a solid foundation on which to base our faith. Feelings are fleeting and can arise from a variety of physical, cognitive, and situational factors. They give color and flavor to life, such as the excitement of meeting a new challenge or the joy of holding a newborn baby.
We get into problems, though, when our faith in God depends on our feelings. Factors such as exhaustion, pain, or even feelings of guilt may block our ability to sense God's presence. At those times, we must intentionally remind ourselves that our faith rests securely on Christ. We know this by returning again to our knowledge of God and the truths we find in His Word. We can look back over our lives and recall our heavenly Father was with us then, even if we didn't feel it at the time.
This is the time to seek out the strength and encouragement of other believers as well. They help us to keep walking through our current darkness and into the light. Like Job, we must choose to continue to pursue God despite our momentary feelings.
Lord, I rejoice in your presence today. Please help me to remember that You are always with me even when I feel abandoned. Amen.