from Rachel: When God Seems Distant

“May 6, 2004

“I think I’ll need to remember this chapter is here and come back to it in the future whenever this dilemma arises. At present, I can’t relate – praise God.

“Lately, my own distractions and preoccupations are the only distance I have felt from God (all me). Actually, I feel He’s been giving me some one-on-one lessons lately, the point being to challenge me to give up something I want to do, then when I willingly surrender it, giving it back. E.g., Mary needed me during MITI (Moms In Touch International – a group of moms with kids in school that got together for prayer for their kids &c.), then her appointment changed, and she needed me after instead.”

Dearest Rachel –

I’m not gonna lie, I wish I felt as close to God as you did at this time (and I notice you never did get back to this chapter. That’s probably more because the book got lost under the bed in the yellow room – and the room inevitably got choked with all manner of memorabilia and other detritus over the intervening sixteen years – than never having gone through a period where God seemed distant from you. But hey… you may have sensed Him throughout all that time as well). I’ve spilled a lot of digital ink going over how much difficulty I have in sensing His presence and knowing His will.

For what it’s worth, it could easily be argued that it might well be a case of having grown up in a devoutly Christian home, and having Him in my life from such a young age, that I literally don’t sense what’s always been there, much like we don’t sense the thin soup of air that we walk through at all times. It would be obvious if it wasn’t there, that’s for sure, but there’s never been a time like that for me. Even Jesus Himself experienced that moment for a moment, and cried out in anguish and despair; so He actually knew what that was like better than I might.

And yet, thin air seems to us as humans as literally nothing, just as whatever I may have between myself and God right now seems to be – and has almost always has seemed to be.

At least, I can’t say that I sense any absence, either. It’s not like I feel like I’ve suddenly been abandoned by God throughout these past nine months. Indeed, He has surrounded me with His people in ways I never expected, and that has been a vast comfort, during those times when they are around (of course, when they’ve gone home, that’s another story).

And while I feel sometimes like I’m operating almost mechanically, going through the motions of worship by coming to church, by reading those daily chapters, by attempting to continue with my prayer life, by serving in this or that capacity, it’s at least better for my soul than simply walking away from Him out of spite. That’s not a winning strategy.

I’ve let my own notes (which I just discovered a few weeks ago) show up here without comment, but this particular week is a situation I’ve experienced more than you had, so they might prove useful. I can trust that He’s aware of how I feel (or more to the point, how little I feel), and that’s okay with Him. I’m allowed my doubts, especially if I’m willing to share them with Him; it’s still me communicating with Him, and that’s what matters.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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