“Do we stay Christians because of the feeling of fellowship we have with the Lord or is it because we trust in Jesus?”
I read an article this morning that related to what many of my friends are going through right now, as well as described times in my life of what seemed like “dryness” with God. We need to be careful though, and not be caught up thinking that in order to be close to God, we must “feel” him there or be overwhelmed by a “feeling” of rightness, if that makes sense. For example, if you have ever been to a worship service, you may have had feelings of overwhelming joy and closeness to God. It is important to differentiate between a “feeling” that we may have because of the music and environment, and actually knowing that we are encountering God. Honestly, that may be a hard difference to see, at first. I am not at all saying that every time you have an overwhelming joy, that you should write it off as a feeling. Absolutely not. I would just ask you to consider more deeply what is really going on in your heart when this occurs. Ultimately, you will know when it is the Lord. When we fix our eyes and our thoughts on Him, we will see Him.
Many of us have or will have seasons in life that feel like we are walking through the desert. We feel distant from God, maybe that there is nobody there who understands what we are going through or even that life is just stuck in a depressing hole. If you have ever experienced this or may be experiencing it now, let me tell you, there is so much hope.
I love the way that Matt Slick put it in his article, “Feeling Spiritually dry” He said, “Most every major person in the Bible that was used mightily of God had to go through a desert time. This includes Moses, Elijah, Jesus, and Paul. Being in a place where we are dry, waiting, wanting, praying, examining, etc., is often the proving ground of strength and refinement. Then, after this time is completed, the thing that we have been prepared for comes upon us. Sometimes this preparation is for hardship, sorrow, and pain. Other times it is for blessing, reward, and ministry. Remember, the Lord has not saved us to be trophies on a shelf. We are instruments in His hands to be used in the world. This usage requires that we be able to be used, able to be sent, able to trust the Lord in spite of what we see and feel! ”
I want to personally vouch for this: I went through a time in college where things seemed absolutely amazing. I had awesome friends whom I did everything with. We understood each other and always had a blast. I also had a great boyfriend who I loved and who loved me. I was certain we were going to get married someday. Things were pretty perfect. But what I hadn’t realized was that I was putting all of these people in my life above God and I had really stopped listening to Him fully.
I ended up having a huge falling out with my 2 friends and about a month later my boyfriend and I also broke up. I had already been feeling low from what happened with my friends and then the break up added even more heartache. I had never felt that low. That was my rock bottom and I didn’t know who to turn to. As much as they tried to understand, I felt that nobody could fathom what I was going through. I ended up basically retreating (as much as you can retreat while still being a student). Other than classes, I spent much of the time alone. I wanted to be with people, but I couldn’t find joy in it and nobody I talked to understood the pain I was going through. I was blessed to have had the support of my family through that time. Their encouragement helped me so much. But I was at school and far away from the people I was closest too. I knew that after losing the people I built my world around, I would now have to start over, and I just didn’t have the strength.
It is hard looking back on this time now, because it was the most painful season in my life. But amazingly now, I can thank God for it. Having lost and been betrayed by so many people whom I felt so close to, I had no other choice but to look to God. I started really diving into my Bible (honestly for the first time, even though I had been a believer for 4 years). Through my readings, I found peace in knowing that God knew exactly what I was going through and it was comforting to know that He was with me when all that happened and still was then. I started reading a lot about suffering as well and why God allows that to happen.
It took a very long time to understand why on earth God would allow this in my life, but looking back now, I would not have gained the invaluable wisdom and compassion that I now have for people. I just simply would not have understood so much pain that is going on in people’s lives. Through that time I started meeting with a girl from my small group. She was going through even more than I was and so I decided to reach out to her. I thought, wow, we are going through so much of the same thing, maybe it would help her to know that I am too. That relationship was such a blessing. We really helped each other a lot and came to a deeper understanding of why this was happening to us.
I truly believe that God perfects His power in us through our weaknesses. Like 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
This verse can be interpreted in other ways as well. For example, the things that we are uncomfortable doing or don’t particularly think we are goo at, God can use those things in such powerful ways. Like introverted pastors. Most are not comfortable in front of large groups and find it hard to do the social aspect of the job. Yet, for all of those introverted people out there, like me, we so appreciate them. We can relate so well to the workings of their minds. What a world it would be for us if all pastors were extroverts!
But I guess what I am getting at is, God builds us into who we were made to be through our sufferings, depressing times and times of absolute lonliness. We know that we deserve more. And so does He. And he promises to bless us abundantly. But we have to let Him mold us. We let Jesus into our hearts and let the Holy Spirit do it’s work within us, changing us from the inside out. There is not a more glorious experience in all the earth, to know that the creator of the heavens and earth is using us for his glorious purposes. Fighting him and trying to do things our own way or to make ourselves more comfortable can only hurt us. God knows what we need and he has promised to provide it. Like the verses in Matthew 6:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I was so trying to fight the lonely time that I was going through, and trying to get back “on track”, so I thought. But God had a bigger plan and once I let go of my pride, it was revealed to me. God has used me to reach out and love people in ways I never thought possible. Ways that wouldn’t have been possible, had I not gone through the hard times. I know that there are probably more to come as well, but I know that my wisdom and love can only deepen through these experiences. Let God mold your soul, for he is the love we seek. Let Him sharpen you and make you (for everything you are) even more of a river of living water.