Several years ago I found myself in the middle of the worst (up to that point) and longest crisis of my life. Something swept into my sweet little life and set up camp for 441 days (but who’s counting). And in the middle of all that, two of my best friends moved away.
To say I was sad does not even begin to cover it. This chain of events broke parts of my heart off.
And in that pain and depression and darkness and stress and fear, I did not feel God’s peace and I did not feel God’s presence.
This stunned me as I had been under the impression in the twenty years or so prior as a Christ-follower that I would have access to God’s unsurpassing peace when I needed it.
During that time, I was with a dear friend. And I said something to her that I’d never said to anyone else before. And I said it in a whisper as if she’d possibly disown me or Jesus would strike me down.
I said, “In all my years of following Jesus, I have to admit that I have not felt the comfort of God in my life and hard circumstances more than I have felt the comfort of God.” Then I winced.
And she said, “Oh yeah, totally.”
Here’s what I know though.
God promises peace. He never says in Scripture how that peace will manifest. We, as humans, are probably looking for it to pan out in certain ways, like a fixed circumstance to our liking or at the very least, some kind of feeling or steadiness that comes over us. I’ve felt that. But then again, I’ve not felt it more than I have felt it.
God promises his presence. He’s not going anywhere. He is never, ever leaving you. No matter how it feels or what you do or don’t do.
I also know this: the times I have felt something…..that unexplainable peace, that tangible Presence of the Most High…..those times have gotten me through the times that I haven’t.
And I know this: faith is not about feelings or what we can touch or see. It’s about believing in Something bigger than yourself, Something that has shown himself faithful and true and good.
I may not feel comfort in the ways that I want to feel it from God. But I rest in my faith that it’s there and he’s there and he’s not leaving my side.
For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. -2 Corinthians 1:5
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Such a great post, Elisabeth! Needed this today for sure. God’s peace passes ALL understanding – it is very different most of the time than what I think is best for me. And sometimes I am afraid to accept that peace precisely because it is SO different from what I had before. The consolation I am learning is this – it must mean I am growing and deepening in my walk with God. And that is definitely God’s work – not mine!
Blessings to you!
Thank you sharing this because I have experienced the same thing. I’ve gone months with an unsettled restlessness/emptiness which has almost left me unable to spend time with God. I go for days and sometimes weeks intending to have a quiet time, thinking I will as soon as I finish …, but then finding myself at the end of the day having thought about time with God yet never taking the time for Him. As I prayed this morning, I found myself praying about my anger, and realized how angry I’ve been with God, not just about personal things, but about the injustice I see all around me. I have a difficult time reconciling that everything is under God’s control and that God is good and He is loving against the pain and suffering I see with my children and so many others around me. I hate seeing what the brokenness of my marriage has done to my 4 young adult children, but I’ve also heard them express what they’ve learned about God from what they’ve gone through (revealing my lack of faith that God is growing them in ways I can’t see or know). So I’m with you in NOT feeling God’s peace more than feeling His peace, and yet am realizing, that for me, some of the time it has been because of my failure to trust that He knows what I need better than I do.
I don’t feel comfort from God in the way that “I” want it either. But what would that “way” be?
Thankfully He has provided for me with housing, food, water, medications, a car, a modest income along with health insurance, the gifts of the five senses, the ability to walk, my pets, and so many other comforts.
Thankfully He gave me Jesus, the Holy Spirit, my Faith, and His Love.
I am like a spoiled child, but I am tremendously grateful for all.
So what else do I need to “feel” His comfort?
Well, I am widowed. My husband was the love of my life and always will be.
For years I am hurting constantly from the emotional pain of loss.
What I need from God now to feel His comfort is peace and joy….instead of feeling constant sadness.