“Dude! I don’t I feel God’s presence? Maybe He has left me!” You’d be surprised at how often these thoughts or questions come up! Perhaps you’ve wondered or asked them yourself. It’s OK. Let’s talk about why we think we need to ‘feel’ the presence of God.
Our creator designed us to bear His image.
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . . God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)
Do you know that He and the One we know as Jesus felt emotion (and, logically, still do)?
God: “Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13)
Jesus: “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him . . .” (Mark 10:21); “When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’” (Luke 7:13)
We are imagers of God. He operates by free will; so do we (with good or bad consequences!). He feels; we feel. So God understands our emotions. The downside is that we can mistake feeling for Spirit and go into a tailspin when we don’t ‘feel’ Him. The truth is that, although our interaction with God can produce human feelings, the Spirit of God isn’t an emotion. He is either with us or not, regardless of what we feel. Old Covenant Elijah and David exemplify this reality.
God was with Elijah, as evidenced by His destruction of pagan priests and an animal sacrifice (1 Kings 18:20-40). He was probably on top of the world! Yet, he had a complete reversal when running from King Ahab soon afterward. Elijah was so depressed that he wished to die. He didn’t ‘feel’ the presence of God. However, he learned that God had not left Him as revealed in a ‘gentle wind’ (1 Kings 19:11-13).
David? Within the first 100 Psalms, you’ll discover quickly that David’s emotions were up one minute, down the next. He knew that God was his foundation (e.g., Psalm 18), but, later, he cries, “Where are you?!?” (as in Psalm 13).
And then there’s my dear wife, who felt like she was in a ‘spiritual desert’ for several years. Once she realized that God had been with her all the time and was waiting for her to do her job of introducing His Kingdom to others in work, play, and life, her outlook changed, and she’s been fine ever since.
In summary, our emotions (or lack thereof!) may keep us from remembering that God gives His Spirit to His own; feelings are ours. Next week, we’ll take a deep dive into Jesus’ washings in the upper room as we contrast born-again forgiveness and continued forgiveness.
Blessings and peace,
Dr. Ron Braley