One of the things that I struggle with the most is the feeling that God is far away. One of the things I try to do on this blog is be honest. And honestly, very often, I feel very far from God. And again, honestly, there are times that I don't feel like reading my Bible, or praying, or singing, or even blogging about theology.
We all know the high you get after a teen conference, or an especially convicting sermon, when you feel really close to God. And I'll admit, the feeling is awesome. You have faith in God, you're trusting His will, you're listening to Him, Bible reading is fun, and praying just comes naturally. The problem is that, as enjoyable as it is, those times are probably not the norm.
In Ps. 10:1 we see David having the identical feeling. David certainly had his times of feeling very close to God, as we see throughout the Psalms (Ps. 11, 18, 23, etc.). However, very often, as in Ps. 10, we see David with that low feeling of a distant God, one that didn't really hear him. V. 1 says, "Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do you hide Yourself in times of trouble?" I've certainly felt that way before, when you just stand there and say, "Where are you, God?" A similar verse is just over in Ps. 13:1, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?"
First off, it's comforting to me that David, the man after God's own heart, also had that feeling. But it also tells me that it will happen at some point throughout your life. So what should we do when that feeling comes on?
The thing that helps me is the realization that my feelings do not define the truth. Very often, I've felt fear walking into something completely safe because of my own false illusions.So my relationship with God should not necessarily depend on how close I happen to feel at the moment. The feeling that God is far away does not make that statement true.
David's peace, even during those times when he stood wondering where God was, came from His knowledge of God's love and sovereignty, not from a feeling that God was close. V. 15-18 show David's hope despite God's seemingly being far away. "The Lord is King for ever and ever; Nations have perished from His land. O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear, to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror."
What is David's response? Peace. Rest. Why? Because even when our feelings say that God is far away, the Scriptures show us He has heard. David states in v. 16 that God has heard his cry. That is the basis for my faith, not my feelings. My basis for my faith in God is a knowledge of the nature of Christ over my own feelings.
Obeying God when we're not on that spiritual high shows that we're obeying for the right reason. When we obey God on the high, that's great, but natural. I'm a guy, so I'll use an example that makes sense for me. If a guy likes a girl, it's natural to be nice to her when she's paying attention to you, right? But it really shows whether or not you really like her when you do nice things for her that she will never notice, things that don't get instant recognition.
It's natural to obey God when you have that high feeling that you're about a foot away from heaven and sitting in the very presence of God. It's fairly easy to obey, right? But the difficulty is when God seems far away, and it's really easy to fall into the temptation that God won't care 'cause He's not paying attention. Maybe you tell yourself that you'll repent of it after you've had your fun and you're ready for the next spiritual "high". But the truth is that you show your love for God by obeying even when you don't feel His breath down the back of your neck.
So if you're going through one of those times, don't be discouraged. It's part of the Christian walk, not that God has abandoned you because you're a terrible person. Just keep obeying, keep listening. This is one of those things that I have to tell myself constantly, because I fall for those temptations above more than anybody else reading this. Rest. You're status with Jesus isn't dependent on feelings, but on Jesus' work on the cross. You're secure, whether you feel it or not. God is still sovereign.