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The Myth: “God is distant.”

The Myth: “God is distant.”

Editor's note — Flourish: The NIV Bible for Women includes Myths articles which expose commonly accepted myths of our culture that many women believe — misconceptions about love, relationships, God, fulfillment, sex, faith, identity, and more. Each opens with the first-person story of a woman who believes a particular myth and how that affects her life. Then, principles from the Bible refute the myth and offer practical guidance and help.


The Myth 

I can’t admit this to many people, but I feel very far away from God these days. I’ve noticed this for the past few months. It’s almost like I’m in a wilderness of some kind, alone. I’ve had a lot of setbacks lately, which have caused me to feel discouraged. When I pray (and I’ve had a hard time praying recently), it feels as if God isn’t listening. I can’t sense His presence in my life at all anymore.

At church, I feel as if I’m just going through the motions. When I was asked to pray at the missions council meeting, I wanted to say no. But I prayed anyway. I felt as if I was just mouthing the words — not really feeling or believing them. 

I feel abandoned by God. I know He promised never to leave or forsake me. But that’s how I feel now — forsaken.

One of our pastors said that if you’re not hearing from God, then maybe you have unconfessed sin in your life. I was so angry when I heard that. Why is God’s silence all my fault? I’m not used to this. It’s not like I’m a new Christian. I’ve been a believer for years.

Just a few months ago, I was on top of the world. Many of my prayers were answered with a resounding yes. I felt so close to the Lord. Now I wonder what went wrong.


The Truth

Can you relate to Charity’s story? Elijah could. He went through a time when God seemed distant.

What’s ironic is that Elijah’s time of struggle came right after his (literal) mountaintop experience, a tremendous show of God’s power that enabled Elijah to single-handedly defeat the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (see 1 Kings 18). After that awesome display, the wicked Queen Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah by the next day (see 1 Kings 19:1–2). In the wake of Elijah’s unshakable confidence on Mount Carmel, the fear and depression he felt afterward seem shocking. But Elijah knew all too well that Jezebel wasn’t one to make idle threats. So the exhausted prophet ran for his life.

A lull after a spiritual high is often the time when the enemy moves in for an attack. In a dark time, the believer’s focus can turn from praise to thoughts of Where is God?

Does God seem distant to you? Every relationship experiences an ebb and flow of feelings. A relationship with God is no exception. What can you do during those times when He feels distant?

  • Keep spending time with God, even when you don’t feel like it. In a marriage, the partners may not always feel close, but they keep making time for each other for the sake of their marriage. Your relationship with God is like a marriage. Spending time with Him is necessary for the health of your relationship and your spiritual health. Jesus used the illustration of staying attached to the vine. “Remain in Me, as I also remain in you” (John 15:4). Eventually the feelings will return.
  • When God seems silent, you have to trust Him. Sometimes God seems silent in order to stretch your faith in Him. Are you willing to trust and wait on His answers, even when His time frame may be much different than yours?
  • Examine your heart. Sometimes (not always) it’s a hidden sin that has come between you and God (see Isaiah 59:1–2).
  • Believe that God has not moved. God is where He said He’d be — with you. Meditate on verses that assure you of this truth (see Hebrews 13:5–6).
  • Remember that you aren’t the only one who has been in a wilderness. Talk with other believers. Let their experiences encourage you during this time.

Excerpted from Flourish: The NIV Bible for Women, copyright Zondervan.

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Your Turn

Do you feel like God is distant? Is praying a challenge because it seems like He isn’t even listening? Have you wondered Where is God? You’re not alone! This is an experience every long-time Christian eventually faces. Keep going! Keep praying. Keep trusting. Endure through this season and you’ll find He never moved but stayed (sometimes enigmatically) close by the whole time. Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you about the myth that God is distant and the truth that He has not, is not, and will not abandon you!