When you are a baby Christian, God gives you a lot of confirming emotions and often answers the most immature, self-centered prayers so you'll know He exists. But as you grow in faith, He will wean you of these dependencies.
God's omnipresence and the manifestation of His presence are two different things. One is a fact; the other is often a feeling. God is always present, even when you are unaware of Him, and His presence is too profound to be measured by mere emotion.
Yes, He wants you to sense His presence, but He's more concerned that you trust Him than that you feel Him. Faith, not feelings, pleases God.
The situations that will stretch your faith most will be those times when life falls apart and God is nowhere to be found. This happened to Job. On a single day he lost everything—his family, his business, his health, and everything he owned. And then, for 37 chapters, God said nothing!
How do you praise God when you don't understand what's happening in your life and God is silent? How do you stay connected in a crisis without communication? How do you keep your eyes on Jesus when they're full of tears? You do what Job did: "Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked will I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21-22, MEV).
Tell God exactly how you feel. Pour out your heart to Him. Unload every emotion that you're feeling. Job did this when he said, "Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul" (Job 7:11, MEV).
He cried out when God seemed distant: "As I was in the days of my autumn youth, when the friendly counsel of God was over my tent" (Job 29:4, MEV).
God can handle your doubt, anger, fear, grief, confusion, and questions.
Talk It Over
- Who is the person you go to when life gets tough? What do you say to them that you also need to say to God?
- How is your faith in God on display when you go through a crisis?
- Why do you think God is more concerned about your faith than your feelings?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
For the original article, visit rickwarren.org.