Lately I’ve felt little emotion in my Christian walk. I love it when I feel God’s presence in my life. Only those who have experienced the consciousness of His life and love flooding their emotions and mind understand what I mean. It’s wonderful to sense the closeness of the Father, gently nurturing you each step of the way. I like it when I have that warm, close, conscious awareness of Jesus in me. But the Christian life doesn’t always work that way. I recently told a friend, “I feel emotionally exhausted and mentally brain-dead.”
Lately our family has been battered by circumstances. We’ve been touched by death, by disease, by accident, by difficult changes, by feelings of uncertainty that arise and will not be silenced. I know God is near, but my feelings haven’t validated that fact much in the past few weeks.
Why am I sharing such a personal aspect of my faith with you? There was a time when I couldn’t be honest about negative feelings related to my faith, but understanding who I am in Christ changed that. I share my “emotional low” with you now because I hope that you’ll be encouraged by the realization that it isn’t abnormal to feel nothing sometimes. I’m sure you’ve felt like this too. I think transparency in the church is important when it comes to our feelings. It helps us to understand that there are no spiritual super heroes. We’re all in the same boat.
There are those within the body of Christ who communicate by their actions and teachings that it is somehow “unspiritual” to not feel upbeat all the time. Those folks are to be pitied. They look like caricatures of Christianity. Their faulty beliefs force them into hypocritical behavior. Their smiles look hollow and their words are empty and don’t sound authentic.
The truth is that we don’t always feel like we’re on a spiritual mountaintop. Sometimes we feel the cold winds of circumstances blowing through our lives like howling winds in a cold valley. When we feel that way, we can be confident that we are in good company.
From the void of circumstantial happiness in his life, Job wrote: If only I knew where to find God, I would go to his throne and talk with him there. I would lay out my case and present my arguments. Then I would listen to his reply and understand what he says to me. Would He merely argue with me in his greatness? No, he would give me a fair hearing. Fair and honest people can reason with him, so I would be acquitted by my Judge. I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turn to the south, but I cannot find him. (Job 23:3-9)
Was this kind of honesty an expression of doubt in God? Not at all. Job’s faith is seen clearly in verses 10-12 of this chapter when he said, But he knows where I am going. And when he has tested me like gold in a fire, he will pronounce me innocent. “For I have stayed in God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from his commands but have treasured his word in my heart.
What was Job’s response when he felt no joy? He trusted anyway. He treasured in his heart the words that God had spoken to Him. He clung to God even when he felt nothing positive from it.
During the times when our feelings don’t align with our faith, it is important to remember that it’s okay. Many believers have experienced the same. The Apostle Paul wrote that his burdens were so heavy at times he despaired of life. (2 Corinthians 1:8) The great prophet, Elijah, once sat down under a tree so dejected and despondent that he asked God to just go ahead and let him die. (1 Kings 19:4) Countless others could be mentioned both from Scripture and from church history who experienced moments when their emotions bottomed out.
When we feel nothing, God’s grace shines brightest. It’s one thing to trust Him when everything is going our way, but when circumstances close in on us, trusting Him is evidence of supernatural grace flowing through us. Do you find yourself not feeling the “joy of the Lord” the way you want? If so, be assured you’re at a place where the current of grace can run deeper and wider than usual in you.
Whether you feel His presence or not, just trust Him. Be assured that He knows the path you are walking and He is quietly walking it with you. Cling to Jesus and know that the Sun will shine again for one simple reason – Great is His faithfulness.