Ever feel like God is far away? You know, you pray but don’t feel his presence, ask for direction but don’t hear a thing, read and nothing jumps out at you. It feels like your life is a long walk down a desert road with no life on the horizon. I know, I know that sounds terribly depressing but we all go through it from time to time. I know I have! My prayer journal is filled with pages of complaints to God about his alleged silence.
One thing I’ve learned about these times is that they are always growth experiences. It’s difficult to say that because it feels so trite. “Growth experience” is such an overused expression and not every difficult circumstance is brought our way to help us grow. Sometime stuff just stinks. The thing is, I’ve never gone through a “dry time” and not been able to look back and see how God stretched me and caused me to mature.
I was reading in scripture today about a great king who experienced such a time. 2nd Chronicles 32:31 says, “However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart.” It was a test. God was withdrawing from Hezekiah to see how he would testify about his circumstances when the feelings of God’s presence and blessing weren’t there. As my old friend used to say, “You can’t have a testimony without a test.”
One thing is for sure. Dry times, seemingly unfruitful times, even times of crisis will reveal what is truly in our hearts. Will we stay committed to pray when we don’t feel his presence? Will we continue to read His Word when we’re not getting revelation? Will we stay faithful to His calling when it seems like we’re not producing fruit? Will we obey and stay steady when we don’t know which direction He wants us to go? Will we praise Him and confess His goodness when He seems distant an indifferent? Will we humbly give Him the glory when we experience success?
The truth is God’s greatness, His love, and His goodness have absolutely nothing to do with how we feel. Whether we feel like he’s near or far, He has promised not to leave or forsake us. We can pass the test when we know beyond our emotions how truly, deeply in love He is with us. We can praise Him in good times and bad simply because He loves us and He is good, always, even when our perception of goodness clashes with His. When we hold that tightly, in the core of who we are, then we can say as Job did, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15)