Day 14: When God Seems Distant – 40 Days of Purpose-Driven Life

Purpose #1: You Were Planned for God’s Pleasure

Point to Ponder: God is real, no matter how I feel.

Verse to Remember: “For God has said, ‘I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.’ ” — Hebrews 13:5 (TEV)

Question to Consider: How can I stay focused on God’s presence, especially when he feels distant?

[Read More] thoughts on Day 14 of Rick Warren‘s Purpose-Driven Life* including the ultimate test of faith.

Today’s devotional unflinchingly looks at the hardest aspect of worship: honoring God when it makes no sense. It is easy to thank God for the good times, and in some ways even easier to enjoy His presence during the hard times! But:

“Will you continue to love, trust, obey, and worship God, even when you have no sense of his presence or visible evidence of his work in your life?”

This (and perhaps only this) is the aspect of faith that can truly be called ‘blind.’ Much — perhaps even most — of the Christian life can be at least partly justified based on historical research (e.g., the Bible), empirical observation (e.g., changed lives), or even subject experiences (e.g., miracles). But — as skeptics are quick to point out — that only gets you so far. Ultimately, we all get to a place when we realize our reason, senses, and intuition have no answer. What then?

Rick gives four helpful recommendations:

1. Tell God exactly how you feel
2. Focus on who God is — his unchanging nature
3. Trust God to keep his promises
4. Remember what God has already done for you.

However, it seems to me that there is an even earlier choice we must face. When the evidence falls short, do we say:

a. “God is real, and a rewarder of those who seek him”, or
b. “There is no God; or, if there is a God, He is either not good enough or powerful enough for me to trust him.”

This is not an easy question, and there is no simple answer. Logically, it is entirely possible that God is a fraud, and that the universe is absurd. If that were so, we mortals really would have no other honest option but to “curse God and die.” — despondent, but at least holding on to our integrity.

And yet… what the skeptic usually ignores is that all relationships come down to that same leap of faith: marriage, parents, children, friends — and most terrifying of all, our relationship with our self! Ultimately, on what basis do we even trust ourselves? I don’t know about you, but I have done some really cruel, stupid, and foolish things to myself over the years.

In a sense, that is the question that both Job and Jesus ultimately faced, which we face as well. When the chips are down, and everything within us screams that there is no God, who will we believe? Or, put another way, which impression of reality do we choose to believe: the one where we interpreted everything in light of a good God, or where we everything in light of an evil reality?

Prayer: God, I don’t have any answers. All I know is that you have been far more good to me than I have ever been to myself. And while I confess that I sometimes doubt your existence, I’m not even sure that I myself (memories, choices, and instincts) am real. So, ultimately, I choose to trust in you rather than myself. I can’t prove that you are good, but neither can I prove you are not. It comes down to faith. it comes down to a choice. I choose you. Help me to live up to that choice. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.