If you’ve been following any of my past blog posts, you know that I, like many of you, have been struggling a little bit during this truly outlandish time in which our world has found itself. The Bible says that there is nothing new under the sun, and this is true, but most of us alive right now haven’t experienced our world the way we are experiencing it today. I’ve always found comfort and hope in the promises of The Bible.
The promise that has seen me through some of the toughest times in my life can be found in chapter thirty-one in the book of Deuteronomy. It says,
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
This promise can be found several times in Scripture: Hebrews 13:5, 1 Chronicles 28:20, and Joshua 1:5, just to name a few. Equally comforting and encouraging is the promise that God made to us regarding His Holy Spirit who dwells within every believer forever (1Thessalonians 5:19 and Romans 8:11 — again, just two of the many places this promise can be found in Scripture).
I know that God has been with me, right beside me for my whole life and definitely for as long as I’ve been a Christian — thirty-eight years now! On a spiritual and intellectual level, I know He has never left me alone.
We’ll fast-forward now to something that happened a few weeks ago that shook me to my very core. I never realized it, but I know now something that I have taken for granted my entire life. It was a blessing that God gifted me for so long — a blessing of which I am utterly undeserving, as I am of all His blessings. God had blessed me my whole life with the feeling of His Presence.
Never, not once, even during the dark years when I did everything I could to not be close to Him, did I ever not feel Him. There were times in my life I rejected Him, decided to walk my own way for awhile, and I did, but even during those days, I still felt Him right beside me, and even dwelling within me. I’m not talking about the knowing I mentioned earlier. I’m talking about straight-up feelings.
All I can hear in my head right now is my Dad singing, tongue-in-cheek, of course: “Feelings…nothing more than feelings…” while he explained to me growing up that God gives us feelings, but we aren’t supposed to trust those feelings.
We’re supposed to trust Him. Still, looking back now I realize how special I must be to my Heavenly Father that he would give me not only the gift of eternal life with Him, but that during this life on Earth, He would also give me the gift of feeling His Very Presence. It’s one of those things you don’t appreciate nearly enough until it’s not there.
Now, let’s rewind just a little. A few weeks into the pandemic, I found myself feeling pretty despondent. I was lying awake in the middle of the night (not really a new thing for me), and I decided to pray. Sometimes, when I feel like this and don’t know how to pray, I just say the Name of Jesus out loud. There is power in that, and it brings about comfort all on Its own. When I’ve done this in the past, usually, like, my-whole-life-usually, I would instantly feel God right there. And the Presence I felt was always a welcoming, comforting, kind of come-here-my-child feeling, never judgmental or resentful.
I wouldn’t feel alone anymore. Instead, that night, I felt echoes. I can’t explain that any further except to say there was an emptiness, a vast emptiness that shocked and frightened me. Never before had I ever uttered the words, “God, are you there?” or “God, if You can hear me…”
I had always felt Him. I didn’t, couldn’t feel Him that night, and I can’t explain how foreign and wrong it felt. I realize now Satan was working hard on me. He knows he can never win me, but he can certainly keep me from being effective for Jesus here on this Earth. He was feeding me lies, telling me my Father had abandoned me. I knew it wasn’t true, in my brain and even in my heart, but boy, did it feel kind of true.
Eventually, and I’m not even sure the moment it happened, but God returned that blessing to me, and I hold it so tightly now, now that I know not everyone gets to experience that, at least not for the lifetime I’d been given. I’m not sure why He allowed me to have that experience, but I’m really glad He did. God promised us He would never leave us nor forsake us, but He never promised that we would always feel His Presence.
When you experience that, treasure it in your heart forever. It is my prayer for all of you, my Brothers and Sisters, that you would be blessed with feeling the Presence of God. And those times that you don’t feel Him, just keep knowing the truth — that He is there, and keep saying His Precious Name.