“When a baby comes into the world, its hands are clenched, right? Like this?” He made a fist. “Why? Because a baby not knowing any better, wants to grab everything, to say the whole world is mine. But when an old person dies, how does he do so? With his hands open. Why? Because he has learned his lesson.” “What lesson?” I asked. He stretched open his empty fingers. “We can take nothing with us.”
― Mitch Albom, Have a Little Faith: The Story of a Last Request
“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”
— Ernest Hemingway
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
“Christianity, the message of Jesus, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, is good news when you understand it,” Warren said. “[The Resurrection] produces six incredible benefits in our lives.”
Warren outlined the six benefits along with Bible verses:
1. We can be free and forgiven by Jesus’ death. (Isaiah 56:6-10, Romans 4:25)
2. Jesus defeated death so we don’t have to fear it. (2 Peter 1:16, Acts 1:3, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
3. We get to have God’s spirit inside us. (Acts 1:8, Ephesians 1:19-20)
4. God loves us unconditionally. (John 3:16,17, 1 John 13:34-35)
5. God has a greater purpose for our lives. (Mark 8:35, Acts 15:26, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Philippians 1:21)
6. We can be certain of a future in heaven. (1 Peter 1:4, 1 Corinthians 2:9, John 14:6, Romans 10:9)
Holiness or Hardness Toward God?
He … wondered that there was no intercessor … —Isaiah 59:16
The reason many of us stop praying and become hard toward God is that we only have an emotional interest in prayer. It sounds good to say that we pray, and we read books on prayer which tell us that prayer is beneficial— that our minds are quieted and our souls are uplifted when we pray. But Isaiah implied in this verse that God is amazed at such thoughts about prayer.
Worship and intercession must go together; one is impossible without the other. Intercession means raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the person for whom we are praying (see Philippians 2:5). Instead of worshiping God, we recite speeches to God about how prayer is supposed to work. Are we worshiping God or disputing Him when we say, “But God, I just don’t see how you are going to do this”? This is a sure sign that we are not worshiping. When we lose sight of God, we become hard and dogmatic. We throw our petitions at His throne and dictate to Him what we want Him to do. We don’t worship God, nor do we seek to conform our minds to the mind of Christ. And if we are hard toward God, we will become hard toward other people.
Are we worshiping God in a way that will raise us up to where we can take hold of Him, having such intimate contact with Him that we know His mind about the ones for whom we pray? Are we living in a holy relationship with God, or have we become hard and dogmatic?
Do you find yourself thinking that there is no one interceding properly? Then be that person yourself. Be a person who worships God and lives in a holy relationship with Him. Get involved in the real work of intercession, remembering that it truly is work-work that demands all your energy, but work which has no hidden pitfalls. Preaching the gospel has its share of pitfalls, but intercessory prayer has none whatsoever.
“Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering - because you can’t take it in all at once.”
― Audrey Hepburn
So excited for oysters & wine. Why isn’t it five yet!
…and then I lose my phone
Story of my life -.-
As a minister of the gospel and a follower of Jesus, I have counseled many Christians who were experiencing a season of not “feeling” God. This experience can be quite disheartening and a discouragement for believers, especially for those whose conversion was a sensational experience. I would argue that these seasons of darkness are not only common, but are necessary for our maturity as followers of Jesus.
Early on, I would have spiritual highs and spiritual lows. My faith would be shaken if I had a day where I could not “feel” God. The way I would gauge a worship set or a sermon would be based upon how it made me feel, and whether or not I could feel God. I’ve heard people say that: “The Holy Spirit really showed up when we started singing, ‘Shout to the Lord!’” —a prime example of how people perceive God’s presence through feelings.
As I have wrestled through these seasons and encouraged others going through them, I found there is much to be gleaned from these perceived silences from God. If we could always feel God, why would we need to have faith? After all, the Scripture above from Hebrews says that we need increased hope and conviction in order for our faith to increase.
In view of the Scriptures mentioned, here are a few things I offer to folks who are going through these seasons of feeling far from God.
1. KNOW GOD
Remember, God is not just something to feel—he is someone to know. Our need to feel God is often a sign that we need to know him more.
2. CONFESS AND REPENT
There are times that our sin hinders our fellowship with God. If we are sensitive to notice a distancing of his presence, let’s make sure it isn’t us who have caused this separation. Fortunately, God’s grace abounds, and our salvation is secure. With this confidence, we can confess our sins and trust in his gracious forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
3. JESUS IS THE PRIZE
We are all guilty of longing for the benefits of God at the expense of the presence and person of God. It is important to rejoice that the reality and existence of God are not contingent on how we are feeling. Instead, God’s grace can be illustrated further in his desire that we mature in our faith and not stay in the same place.
4. CONTINUE THE PURSUIT
If the goal is to know God more than just to feel God, then we must continue to get to know him through prayer, worship, community, and intentional time in his Word. This is where your faith is tested and ultimately strengthened. Continuing to pursue and obey in spite of not feeling God is like adding more weight to the bar as you exercise. It will be difficult, it may hurt, but it is definitely worth it.
This lack of feeling becomes even more pronounced in moments when we are going through trials (see James 1:2–4). James tells his readers to rejoice in their trials because it is in these times that our faith increases, or becomes complete. Those times of not feeling God are helpful in the long run and are meant for God’s glory and for our good. This is not to say that this it’s easy, but if we desire to mature in our faith we have to expect our faith to be tested and tried.
One of the great gifts of God is his people, the church. When we struggle with this issue, we will be encouraged by those around us in our community. Living your faith in a vacuum will amplify those times that you feel God is far off. The good news is this season does not last forever, and it will ultimately amount to increased faith and greater intimacy with him.