Friday, March 12, 2010


Recently I was talking with a friend who's been struggling with a lot of difficult issues lately. She told me that when things are going well, it's easy to have faith. But when things are hard, any perceived distance in her relationship with God sends the doubts flooding in. She needs strong and visible support from God when times are tough, and if she doesn't get it, her faith suffers drastically. I think that to some extent most everyone feels like my friend sometimes. Even Mother Teresa, famous for her faith, was documented in the book Mother Teresa: Come By My Light as sometimes struggling with her relationship with God. I think of myself as a person of strong faith, but even I know from personal experience about the struggles my friend described.

I vividly remember sitting in the middle of a cloth labyrinth in the chapel at my college one night when I was 19 years old, crying my eyes out because I could not feel God in my heart like I used to. In high school I used to carry God around like a secret best friend in my head, but as I went through emotional and spiritual challenges in college, God seemed to get further and further away from me. I didn't think I could deal with my troubles without the sense of His presence, and I sat and wept out of the sense of cold emptiness and solitude inside me. God and I have reached a more stable place in our relationship these days, but it still hurts when I'm in trouble and I can't feel Him. I do believe in the old Footprints poem—that God is sometimes supporting me most when I can't tell that He's there. I don't worry about being abandoned anymore, but I do hunger and thirst for the overt sense of that comforting presence in my life. I know God is there, but I want to feel Him more strongly when I am at my weakest.

I trust that God has his own reasons for the ways He participates in my life. I know that the silence in my head and the lonely ache in my heart do not mean that there is no God or that He has forsaken me. I realize that sometimes I need the opportunity to work through problems without God's direct intercession and that being strong and persevering is a character building exercise. I believe that God is giving me strength and subtle guidance even when I don't feel Him strongly and that He loves me all the time. I won't lie though—it's hard to maintain that trust in the hard times when God feels far away. It's difficult to see the big picture of God's redeeming love when I hate the inadequacies in myself and I struggle to make the relationships in my life work. It's challenging to keep on convincing myself that my relationship with God is strong and well when He is an unseen entity in my life. Yet, these are the times when I need faith the most. Without God I know I will be defeated by these challenges. I have to hold onto God in order to make it through.

With that in mind, I have more song lyrics to share today. They are excerpted from "Faithful" by Brooke Fraser:

There's distance in the air and I cannot make it leave
I wave my arms round about me and blow with all my might
I cannot sense you close, though I know you're always here
But the comfort of you near is what I long for

When I can't feel you, I have learned to reach out just the same
When I can't hear you, I know you still hear every word I pray
And I want you more than I want to live another day
And as I wait for you maybe I'm made more faithful

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