There are moments in every honest believer’s journey when God seems distant. It can be hard to sort out. Sometimes knowing with your mind God is omnipresent makes the sense of his absence all the more painful.
Those moments it feels as though your prayers bounce off the ceiling and walls only to return to you, we lose touch with the sense of God’s intimate tenderness as we once knew. These are moments and periods of time when we ought to know a few things.
1. Every honest believer has known this place.
Every believer has or will come to a point when God feels absent or distant at best. It is important off-the-bat to know you are not alone.
2. Do not assume you made this happen.
Do not assume you have done something wrong to drive God away. While our sin does separate us from God, that is not always the reason for this distance. There are times when the experience of distance is simply part of the experience of limited beings attempting intimate connection with a limitless God.
3. God has the freedom to come and go.
What kind of god would you have created who answers your every beck and call? What limited god would you have created who only comes and goes as you wish? If God appears at your beck and call, it is not likely the Biblical God you are relating to. God will not be formed in our image. He is free to come and go at His will; not yours.
4. The experience of absence is not the absence of experience
What might God be doing with you in this time? St. John of the Cross wrote about this part of our journey, calling it “The Dark Night of the Soul”. He says there are two “purifiers” at play during this time. One, you are learning not to depend on external things as proof of God’s presence. We can move further within ourselves to know the truer senses of spiritual connection. The second purifier is stripping us of our interior dependence. We are forced to challenge what we really believe about the character of God. Is God truly good and loving? What things have I created in my own image to demand God to do in order for me to believe he is good or loving? These times of feeling absent or distant make me truly realize God does not have to fit in my limited understanding of goodness and love.
I am forced to let go of my stipulations and come to know the God whose love is a reckless raging fury I cannot form as I wish. Then, I can finally let go and trust.