Will the Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has His lovingkindness ceased forever? Have His promises ended for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion? Selah. And I said, “This is my grief, that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”
The only guarantee in life is that there are no guarantees in life. No matter how charmed things might seem, everyone endures ups and downs. Some of us can be more sensitive to these changes than others, and some of us can be more sensitive to the presence of God than others. In the decade plus that I have spent following Jesus Christ, I have experienced both abundance and absence with regard to feeling God’s presence. Sometimes the answers to prayer flow like a mighty river. Other times they seem to dry up like a desert mirage. Although we know that we live in the presence of God, and we know that we carry his Spirit, at times we feel that could not be further from the truth. During those times, we need not pretend that everything is just fine. What we need is sincere prayer that cries out to feel the presence of God once more.
Yes, we want to confess the truth of God’s word when we feel like our lives do not reflect these very truths. Yes, we want to rely on his promises even when they seem to go unfulfilled. But this does not mean that we ignore the emotions we experience and the questions we have during the difficult times. The reason prayer is described as unburdening is that we carry many burdens we need not carry. We can only unburden ourselves through prayer by confessing those things. We do not merely tell God that we feel He is not there, but we also ask him to show up in a mighty way, and we confess that we believe the truth of his word that He will never leave or forsake us. If we read the entire chapter of Psalm 77, we see that this is the very process of prayer used by Asaph. He confesses that he feels he has lost God’s favor, and then he confesses that he still believes God’s promises regarding that favor.
Asking God for some sort of relief without telling him what ails us seems like a rather incomplete prayer. We need to understand that He cares about what we must endure in this world and how we feel about it. Even though we know that He never leaves us, that does not mean that it is sinful or wrong for us to feel that his presence has departed from us. Neither is it sinful or wrong for us to express to our Father in heaven that this is our struggle. If the presence of God eludes us, He wants us to notice just as surely as He wants us to continue to pursue him. We can be honest in our experience while still having faith without doubt. Father, thank You for caring about how we feel, and help us to meet those feelings head-on with the truth in your word.