4 Things to Remember When God Feels Far Away
One of the challenges we can face in the spiritual life is the feeling of being distant from God. At times, we might feel like God is not listening or has even abandoned us, and we just can’t feel his presence. Prayer can feel boring or like a chore. This state of being goes by various names, such as spiritual dryness and spiritual desolation. Though periods of spiritual dryness can feel burdensome and even overwhelming, you don’t need to feel discouraged when you experience them. In fact, if you approach these times with humility and faith, they can actually bear great fruit in your spiritual life. Here are 4 things to keep in mind when God feels far away:
1. It’s not necessarily a punishment.
When you encounter spiritual dryness, it is always a good idea to figure out the source of that dryness. Sometimes, God feels distant because we have made it that way—we have prioritized other things and put God on the back burner, so we are not open to and cognizant of his presence in our lives. But other times, when we a progressing in the spiritual life, God allows us to feel desolation to help us ultimately become closer to him. He uses these periods to help us grow in faith by learning to lean entirely on him.
2. It won’t last forever.
Cycles of consolation and desolation are completely normal in a healthy spiritual life. If you hit a patch of dryness, that doesn’t mean you will always feel that distance from God. On the contrary—in the time that God ordains, he will restore your consolation. Since we all go through these cycles continuously (including the saints!), it’s a good idea to do some spiritual journaling in each state so that you can remember what it feels like when you’re in the opposite state.
3. This is a time when you can prove your faith.
When you are in a place in your prayer life where you feel God’s presence distinctly and prayer is easy, you are receiving a great blessing from God. But when you feel the opposite, you are still receiving a great blessing: the opportunity to prove your faith. It matters that you keep showing up to prayer even when you don’t feel anything. That’s when you are actively making the choice to have faith. Even when you don’t feel any benefit from praying, you keep coming back, without expecting anything in return. That is true faith in God.
4. Your prayers still matter.
God is always listening and present to us. Because of original sin, there is a rupture between human beings and God so that we do not have perfect union with him in this life. Our perception of God can be distorted because of this. However, the truth is that God wastes nothing. Even if we feel like God doesn’t hear our prayers, he does, and he uses them for good even as he holds us close to his heart.