GOD FEELS ABSENT
By: Christina Levasheff, Judson’s Mom
“At the moment of my most profound need, God who had seemed always available to me, suddenly seemed distant and absent, as if he had slammed a door shut and double-bolted it from the inside.” ~C.S. Lewis
There have been many times I’ve felt as though God is absent and my prayers are bouncing off the ceiling of our home, falling on deaf or distant ears. I’ve found myself on my knees in tears, desperately hollering to God through the still air of my bedroom, Are you there? Do you even exist? Do you hear me? Why don’t you answer? Where are you? Have you abandoned me? I’ve grown weary in my prayers wondering why God seems so distant. David, who wrote many of the Psalms in the Bible expressed comparable feelings:
Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Psalm 10:1)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish? (Psalm 22:1,2)
In the midst of his brokenness and pain David was desperate for God to intervene; instead, it felt as though God was absent.
Yet, God promises to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). In fact, God tells us he is especially close to the brokenhearted and he saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).
So where is God when life hurts?
When Judson was sick and had become completely blind, I remember a time when he had been crying out in the middle of the night…so I rushed to his side, stroking his hair to comfort him. In time he settled. I continued to lie near him, just inches away, but no longer touching his frail body. Judson couldn’t see me because of his blindness. And although I was right there—with him in every way—Juddy began to cry out again, afraid I had left him alone once more. Jud’s inability to see, because of his suffering, kept him from recognizing I was totally near, face-to-face, fully present and caring for him (full story in Eyes that See).
Like Judson’s illness, our pain can blind us to God’s presence. We think he is absent and has left us, but he is, in fact, right there with us, face-to-face, present in every way.
Judson’s instinct was to cry out, letting me know he needed my presence, and he trusted I would come. David, the psalmist, did the same.
But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me. (Psalm 22:19)
When God seems absent, he wants us to call out to him like David did, similar to the way Judson cried out for me. And just as I reached out my hand to comfort my son, letting him know I was near, God will assure us of his presence too.