Why I say, “I’m praying”

July 1, 2016

Awake the Dawn: Practicing worship

July 1, 2016

When I don’t feel loved

July 1, 2016

The sunlight flooded the mountain valley like a golden dam opening in slow motion. With the warmth of the morning rays, came the unmistakable warmth of the love of God. It enveloped me like a blanket, wrapping me in the certainty that I was loved by God.

 

We sat on the hard floor of the island church, sat and prayed and worshiped the God who was active in that small town. We’d been circled on the floor for an hour, or was it two? We didn’t know anymore and didn’t care. We just knew that we were in the presence of the father and his love was filling our hearts beyond words or thought. All that mattered was the sure feeling that I was loved by God.

 

The rain fell across the mountainside in thick, vision-blurring sheets. I huddled in the safety of the rocky overhanging, marveling at the hugeness of God, trying to take in this taste of his power. In the midst of the defining rain, however, I became aware of more than just his strength, I felt his love. It fell over me and drenched my heart and I knew that I was loved by God.

There have been a few moments in my life when I have felt the love of God in an almost tangible way. When, if I had opened my eyes, I would have thought for sure that I would have looked into the loving face of my heavenly father. I had known I was loved before, but in those moments I felt it with a depth I can’t explain.

But those times are not the norm.

Most days I go through life with the understated knowledge that God loves me. It’s a little feeling, an awareness, a knowing that I am loved. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s there nonetheless. It’s just calm and quiet.

But there are other days too, days when I cannot feel God’s love at all. Days when I feel lost, alone, forgotten, and unloved. Days, when I feel like my prayers bounce off an empty ceiling like a pinball in an old arcade machine. Can I be completely honest with you and say that some days I don’t feel loved by God? Because I don’t always. And I suspect I’m not alone. Actually, I know I’m not alone because all throughout the pages of scripture you can find stories and prayers and cries to the Lord from his people when they didn’t feel his love either.

Humans are such heart driven creatures, aren’t we? We are so often led by our feelings and emotions, and that’s not a bad thing, but it can leave us rather bereft when suddenly we can’t fall back on that. When we don’t feel the feelings of being loved it leaves us riddled with doubts and questioning so much of our faith. I’ve seen more than one friend knocked on their back when the feelings they’ve based so much of their Christian walk on, suddenly weren’t there.

If that’s you, if you feel alone and unloved and are questioning your faith, I want you to know that you are not alone. I have been there too, oh have I been there! I also want you to know that it’s going to be ok because no matter what you feel, you are loved by God.

When I don’t feel God’s Love

So what do I do when I’m not feeling loved? Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I can share with you some things that help me…

1: I remind myself that feelings can be deceptive.The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that our hearts actively try to deceive us, they are tricky and emotions can flop about like fish on the riverbank. Are our hearts and emotions bad? Not at all! But they are not always accurate either. If I’m not feeling loved, the first thing I do is take a deep breath and remind myself that what I’m feeling is not the truth.

2: I remind myself of what God has said about his love for me. God is a god of words. He spoke creation into being and he calls us with his voice. He speaks his truth and has written it in the Bible. He even refers to himself, to Christ, as the Word. It is fitting, then, to turn to his words to remind ourselves what he has said about us. Here are some that I turn to (there are many, many more but here are some of my favorites)…

  • Ephesians 1:4b-5, “In love, he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of his will…”
  • Ephesians 2:4-5, “ But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in our trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved!”
  • Actually, pretty much all of Ephesians!
  • Romans 8:37-39, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • Hosea 2:14 and 16, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her… and in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband’ and no longer will you call me ‘My master’.” (I love this passage because it is all about those times when you feel separated from God but he speaks his words and brings you to a deeper place of loving him.)

3: I remind myself of what God has done for me. All throughout the Psalms we read about people not feeling close to the Lord and many, many times when that happens they choose to remember what God has done. It’s not a passive remembering; they are not sitting around miserable hoping that they might be reminded of God’s love and his deeds. Rather, they make the choice to actively remember what God has done in their life and the lives of his people.

My favorite passage about that is Psalm 77: 11-15, “Then I said, “It is my grief, that the right hand of the Most High has changed.” I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate on all Your work and muse on your deeds. Your way, O God, is holy; what god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your strength among the peoples. You have by your power redeemed your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph.”

When I am feeling far from the Lord and don’t feel like he loves me, I make a point of remembering those times when I did feel close to him and those times when I knew that he was acting on my behalf. Journaling has helped with that. I don’t write in one often, but I do try to make a point of writing during those times when I see God clearly moving or when I feel his love deeply. It helps me to be able to go back and read my own words from those times. You don’t have to do that, obviously, but do make a point of recalling times when you did experience God’s love and his presence. 

 

Dear Friend, if you do not feel God’s love right now, please know that it’s going to be ok. God says in his word that he does love us, so much that he sent his own son to die in our place. He loves you, has called you, has chosen you, and is working on your behalf. You might not feel it right now, but he is with you and this season will pass. Cling to him, rest in his word, and know that he is there and he loves you.

 

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;

Be strong and let your heart take courage,

Yes, wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:13-14

 

 

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