“What to do when you can’t find God.” This is the name of a podcast listed on an email I received from Emily P. Freeman. The topic is the loss of the felt presence of God. Those times we wander through the wilderness, or the valley of the shadow is the way she describes it.
One suggestion is to do what Mary and Joseph did when they were returning from Passover and could not find their son, Jesus. They looked for him among community, those who knew what he looked like. [Luke 2:41-44] When we feel disconnected others who know Him can encourage us and remind us of all the aspects of a connected life. Freeman states: “Make sure you are in proximity to those who know what Jesus looks like.”
Connection to the Christian community happens in a multitude of ways. Our first thought is church, and that has always been vital to me. As soon as my heart opened to Christ, I searched for a place to learn the Bible and fellowship with other believers. I found it at Warehouse Christian Ministries in Sacramento, California. My faith grew within this church community and there I learned to serve. When God called my husband into the pastorship, and we moved to Westwood, my heart broke at the thought of leaving so many brothers and sisters who had become such good friends. But God gave me a new family.
Church isn’t something we go to on Sunday morning it is a place where we belong. It is important to be with brothers and sisters in Christ that accept us as we are just as Christ does and who allow the Holy Spirit to do His work.
Although we like to think we will never feel a disconnect with Jesus, it is always possible. And when we are in close relationship with other likeminded Christians, we can honestly approach them for the help we need. They will not tell us our feelings betray us and that we are connected no matter how we feel. They will work with us. They will help us.
And that is one reason why community is so important. When one struggles or strays, others can point the way.
When I heard the statement, “What to do when you can’t find God” my thoughts went to Jesus. He was in the wilderness very early in His ministry. During that time Satan came to Him to drive a wedge between Him and His Father, but Jesus was not stumbled because He practiced the Word of God. [Luke 4:1-12] This tells me that during wilderness experiences we can find trail markers in the Bible. We can remember what we have learned, search for guidance by continuing to be in God’s Word daily, by listening intently to Sunday sermons and other teachings, and by having conversations with others who dig deep.
I have taken part in women’s Bible study for decades. Sometimes I am a participant, sometimes a leader. Discussing the lessons with other women, listening to their point of view and application of the verses to their unique situations has greatly expanded my ability to practice God’s Word. I know that the best for me, may not be the best for them. Their needs may not be my needs. Nor are their struggles necessarily mine. But we become better together. We can offer each other a different point of view, a new way to apply the Word that we would never have come up with on our own.
Also, I thought of Jesus’s heartfelt prayer to God in the Garden of Gethsemane as He struggled with a sorrowful soul and asked if the cup might be removed from him before the hour of his arrest. [Mark 14:32-36] We too, can pour an uncensored heart out to God in prayer. If God is all knowing, we cannot hide our feelings of isolation from Him. There are so many attitudes of the heart we are not supposed to have… jealousy, envy, self-pity to name a few. So, when they creep in, we try to snuff them out. Yet, they are part of who we are, and it is God’s job to hone us chipping away all that should not be so we can become who he created us to be. Pouring out our heart to God is a good “first step” when addressing feelings.
These are only three suggestions of what to do when God seems far away and you long for that closeness you once had. In community there will be others because of the variety of people and experiences. As these suggestions come, we can sift through them looking for the one that is right for us, right for our circumstances, and therefore can be acted on to point us back to Jesus.
1-If you have ever felt separated from God what caused the separation? How did you find your way back?
2-What’s the best way to build a strong Christian community?
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