Have you ever felt like your prayers were not reaching God’s ears, or that he had perhaps turned off his receiver? Perhaps you can remember feeling God speak into your heart before, but it has been a long time. Where did God go? Is he busy with someone else—or has he left you, just like everyone else? Ever wonder if you have done something to make God mad at you? Well, God is neither moody nor temperamental.
And God has promised he will never leave you! But your ability to feel him or hear from him might be dimmed if you have involved yourself with activities that would “grieve” him.
To grieve God is to hurt the heart of God, such as when you reject him, and turn toward the things you know are out of line with his will for you . . . like sin.
What is sin? I often get that question. ‘Sin’ includes those things that God has clearly laid out as such—envy, murder, stealing, hatred, idolatry, etc., and also that which we feel in our conscience is wrong, and we do it anyway. Sin is also leaving undone the things God would have us do. Sins of commission... sins of omission.
Another thing that hurts the heart of God is our disobedience. Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word...”1 The writer of Ecclesiastes said,
“Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”2
I love these thoughts:
~“Obedience is not the major work of the disciple; it is the only work.”3
~“There are only two things required of the disciple (student) of Jesus Christ: to love God and to obey him.”4
What else grieves the heart of God? Lack of repentance – when you have erred—overtly or in your heart, and have left it unresolved or unconfessed. With thankful hearts, we know the grace of God covers all . . . through it, we have guilt absolved, sin and shame removed. Freedom restored.
Hardness of heart toward others or being judgmental of others is not pleasing to God, and may cause us to feel a separation from him. Let’s put off a spirit of faultfinding and criticism, and “as far as it depends on us, live at peace with everyone”!5
Another thing that makes the presence of God less apparent to us is preoccupation with self. When I think too much of me and what I want, there will be too little of him. As Paul advised, let’s ‘have this attitude in ourselves which was also in Christ Jesus—who didn’t require equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself. . .’6 What attitude did Jesus have? HUMILITY. Have this attitude in yourself: humility.
“Okay, I’m good on all of these areas, but I still don’t FEEL the presence of God—does that mean he is not there?” No, it does not mean that. Here is the thing about the Christian faith—at some point in our lives, we must decide that God and his word are trustworthy, and if he says that ‘he is with us’ then we can stand on the promise as truth—and that truth has little to do with how we feel. His word to us, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you...”7
God’s presence in my life is a constant, and I am daily trying to ‘abide in him’ just as he told the disciples to do in John, chapter 15. I love to picture Jesus gesturing to a familiar grapevine as he said to them, “Abide in me, and I will abide in you.” Abiding involves turning our thoughts and attention toward God, training and disciplining ourselves—guarding our hearts and minds, and what we put into them—to remain close to the Lord.
One day, when we see Jesus face to face, we shall no longer have to discipline ourselves to ‘abide’ or ‘remain’ in him, for we will be with him, never to be separated again. O, what a glorious day! Until then, let’s remember that, no matter how we FEEL, God will never leave us or forsake us. Let’s look for him in the written Word (for it is the foremost place the voice of God may be heard), in his created works, and in silent space that we provide for him. God promises that when we seek him with all our hearts, he will be found by us.8
I'm listening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ef52AmdVwYI
1 - John 14.23
2 - Ecclesiastes 12.13
3 - Calvin Miller
4 - George MacDonald
5 - Romans 12.18, Amplified
6 - Philippians 2.5-7
7 - Hebrews 13.5
8 - Jeremiah 29.13