Have you ever been in a church service, or spending some quiet time with God and felt His presence so strongly it was palpable? Those are the kind of times when you think, ‘Wow? God is really moving!’. Those are the kind of times you feel really close to Him. Those are the kind of times you hear His voice clearly. Those are the kind of times you know you are a child of God.
I love ‘feeling the feels’. David seemed to understand this concept. He tells us that the mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord (Psalm 97:5), the Earth trembles before Him (Psalm 96: 9) and we find ‘fullness of joy’ (Psalm 16: 11). It’s that complete fullness of joy that can overcome us as we worship; we bow the knee, overawed by His majesty and weep with humility, enveloped in His embrace. There really is nothing else quite like it.
So what happens when we don’t ‘feel those feels’? Has God stopped moving?
I was talking to a friend at the end of one of our Christmas services after several people had given their lives to God. He intimated he had not really felt God’s presence in that overwhelming way during the service himself and neither had I. If I’m honest, I hadn’t felt close to God in that way for a few months. Nevertheless, in the service that evening, others had felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit and had submitted their lives to Christ.
God moves and works regardless of whether we’re feeling the feels or not! Our lack of feelings are not indicative of God’s power or closeness and, to be honest, I am not sure why sometimes I feel Him and sometimes I don’t. What I have learnt over the years though is that even if I’m not feeling the feels, I give Him my worship and praise regardless. After all, our praise is a sacrifice and sacrifice is costly. I take time to pray even if I don’t feel God is close, because prayer builds my relationship with Him. If I don’t feel close to God, it is not because God has moved from me. He has promised to never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31: 6; Joshua 1: 5).
I think it can become very easy to distance ourselves from God’s presence because we aren’t ‘feeling’ Him but we are called to pray continually and praise Him in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:17). God’ s Word doesn’t say to only pray when we feel like it or to only praise Him when things are going great.
In Romans, Paul tells us, in view of God’s mercy to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. This is true worship (Romans 12: 1). Praising God with my whole heart even though I’m not ‘feeling it’ is nothing compared with Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. Taking time to talk with Him, even though I don’t feel Him nearby, is hardly comparable to the pain and suffering He bore for me so that I could have a relationship with the Father.
Our feelings are fickle, influenced by our environment, our hormones, the amount of sleep we’ve had or whether we’ve had our morning coffee. God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13: 8). He is constant, our anchor in the storm. He is with us even when we can’t feel Him. He is working behind the scenes even when we feel alone.
As long as we are praying, reading the Word, seeking His will, worshipping His name and in fellowship with other Christians, we are on the right path. We may not always hear His voice, we may not always feel the feels, but those times will come again when God has something to say to us or touches our hearts through the moving of His spirit. The Christian life is not always a mountaintop experience. Sometimes we’re in the valley, but even there, God walks with us (Psalm 23: 4). We are never alone.