Many believers have struggled with finding God and felt abandoned by Him at some point in their lives. I know I have. What should we do when we can't feel God? When He seems to be quiet, does that mean He's abandoned us? Psalm 83:1 expresses the heart of someone desperate to find God: "O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still." When we go through seasons of the unknown and the painful, it's important that we hold onto God's universal truths like a lifeline.
Answer this question honestly: How close is your relationship with Christ? Are you not sure how to be close to Him? Well, how do you grow your relationship with anyone? You spend time with them! If you barely talk to your friends or family, or if you only talk to them to get through some drama, what do you think happens? It doesn't go over too well, right? Right.
In the same way you would keep up your relationships with people, if you want to deepen your relationship with God, you need to spend time together. That means talking to Him (Philippians 4:6), reading His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and following His guidance for your life (John 15:14).
Are you making time for the one friend who died for you? Are you being a sincere friend to Jesus? Have you ever known someone to only pretend to be your friend, but you can tell they aren't being genuine? They don't speak or act like they love you or care—even if they say they do. Think about your relationship with Jesus. Are you causing any of those red flags in your relationship with Him?
I remember when I realized that was happening in my life. I'd been often treating Jesus like He wasn't my One True Love. Though my feelings are flighty, Jesus is the same—yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). People hurt. People lie. People leave. But Jesus does not. He is a faithful friend through the good, the bad, and the ugly, and we can trust Him to always be there (John 15:15; Matthew 11:28).
When you were a little kid, you recognized your mom's voice when she called you from an aisle over in the store. When you talk to a friend a lot, you start to recognize their voice from down the hall. Being a good friend to Jesus makes us more familiar with His voice too.
John 10:2-5 says, "The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."
Jesus is our good shepherd, meaning He is our protector and caretaker. As His sheep, the closer we get to Jesus in daily life when the sun is shining, the more likely we will hear His safe voice calling when the wolves threaten us in the dark.
The Bible tells us that God has us covered when dark times come. Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus understands our struggle: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." And God promises He will always give you an escape from temptations (1 Corinthians 10:13). Jesus outright told His disciples that life wasn't going to be easy, "but take heart, because I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Remember the purpose behind the struggle. James 1:2-4 says, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." I know it's hard to be "joyful" about hard challenges or circumstances; life can be downright terrible. But having a godly perspective can often help you get through the night. Be assured that God is with you and will recognize your trust and faith in Him (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Looking back on when I've perceived quietness from the Lord, I now understand why it happened. Feeling alone in the dark pushed me into a deeper surrender to God. It made me miss Jesus. It made me desire His friendship. And when I found it, that was true joy.
Cold water tastes sweeter after you've gone for a run and your throat is parched. I was treating God like a cosmic vending machine. I'd put Him in a box I could open whenever I wanted something, and I thought I was content there. Nothing would have changed if God had not allowed me to get very uncomfortable, if He had not stirred a longing in my heart for something better. I was forced to stop treating Him like a vending machine and start truly letting Him into my life. That darkness brought me into a place of fuller surrender. I still struggle (we all will), but in that moment, I realized I wanted to give my life, ALL my life, to Christ and live for Christ in a Galatians 2:20 sort of way.
Could God be calling you to a deeper surrender now? Is He pushing you to desire Him, all of Him—no matter what may come? If Jesus asks you if you are going to leave Him, will you be like Peter and say, "Lord, where else would I go? You have the words of eternal life, and I have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:66-69).
Do you know what God has to say about your situation? He communicates to us through His Word and can bring great comfort if we would just allow Him in. I like to write out an entire passage and let my pen flow, letting God reveal Himself in my journal. When you read the Bible, really meditate on those words. Don't read it like a textbook, but let it "transform you by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).
Do you ever look back at old pictures and grin as you reminisce about the good times? We can do that with God too! During troubled times, remind yourself of what good He has done in your life. The author of Psalm 77 brings his hurt and feelings of rejection to the Lord, but notice that he doesn't continue wallowing in his sorrow. He instead focuses on God's character in worship (Psalm 77:11-14).
Be honest with God about your pain; scream at Him if you need to. He can handle it! But don't stay there—remember what Jesus has done for you, what God has done. Some of your deepest moments of connection with God may come during dark times. You can pray, "I hate this situation, but I know You're good, and You're my God. You know what the outcome will be. I trust You because You love me" (Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20; Philippians 1:6). Our feelings are fickle, but God is not. Remember God's truth—no matter how you feel.
God is always with you—even during times that seem like the light will never come back (John 15:15; Matthew 11:28). Jesus understands your struggles (Hebrews 4:15), and God promises He help you (John 16:33; 1 Corinthians 10:13). This time has great potential to grow you in Christlikeness (James 1:2-4). Ask God to open your eyes and grow you through this darkness. God does have joy for you, and He is faithful to complete His good work in you (Philippians 1:6).
Jenny is a college student who loves God and loves people! She is a major dog person, plays 3 instruments, and sings. She’s also a hardcore coffee enthusiast. Her favorite verse is Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”