There are seasons in our relationship with God when we don’t sense His nearness. He seems far. With our heads we believe correct theology—God is everywhere, He doesn’t change, and there is nowhere that God does not exist. But with our hearts we believe something totally different because our feelings don’t match up with what we know to be true. In those seasons we feel a lot like Job did in the midst of His infamous drought.
Behold, I go forward but He is not there,
And backward, but I cannot perceive Him;
When He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him;
He turns to the right, I cannot see Him. (Job 23:8-9)
Front, back, left, or right, we don’t sense his presence. We don’t witness His work. We don’t feel His favor. Our heads say “yes”, but our hearts say “no.”
This is when it’s important for our heads to inform our hearts and wait for our feelings to follow. That’s what faith is—the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. That assurance and evidence does not come from your heart, it comes from your willingness to trust in what you know to be true, not what you feel not to be true.
What comfort food do we feed our souls when they’re hungrily seeking God’s presence? The words that Job fed his own:
But He knows the way I take:
When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. (23:10)
Two things that are meaningfully comforting in what Job says: 1) God is there and knows exactly where I am (He knows the way I take), and 2) He has me there for a reason that is making me better (I shall come forth as gold). Thus we can be comforted in knowing that God knows us, sees us, holds us, and leads us when we don’t sense His presence, and He has planned the way we take so that it will purify us as gold.
Because of this, our best option is to feed our souls a steady diet of the Word and to follow His ways rather than our own. This will give us hope and fill us with faith.
My foot has held fast to His path;
I have kept His way and not turned aside.
I have not departed from the command of His lips;
I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food. (23:11-12)
Your soul sits empty each day and growls with the hunger pangs of fear and doubt and discouragement and distress. It longs for the nourishing hope and direction that is found only in God’s word. Feast on it, and satiate your starving soul.
God knows the way you take, even when you don’t know the way He takes. He has a purpose for your trial, and it’s to produce gold in you. He has the food that your soul needs. Lean heavily into Him and be satisfied.