Question: "Why are there times in my life when finding God is so difficult?"
Answer: Some of the most promising and spectacular words ever spoken by God are found in the book of Jeremiah: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you” (Jeremiah 29:13-14). And sometimes, in our quest for finding God, it appears that He wants to remind us of this extraordinary promise to us. We’re deeply troubled, so we fervently pray. We’re distressed, so we cry out to God for relief. But sometimes all we hear in reply is silence—a silence so deafening it drowns out every thought but this: God isn't listening. So we ask, “Has God abandoned me?”
Many believers have experienced these feelings and asked the same question. After C. S. Lewis lost his wife to cancer, he called out to God for comfort but sensed no reply. Confused, he asked, "What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?"
The Scriptures speak of cries of help, cries of distress, calling for God in times of great need and turmoil: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?” (Psalm 77:7-8).
“O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still” (Psalm 83:1).
At times our spiritual lives are like this. We think we know where God is, where we stand in our relationship to Him and yet, one day, something changes. We lose a job, our spouse wants a divorce. Even good changes, such as a job promotion or the birth of a child can bring about a sense of uncertainty. Some have referred to these unexpected changes in life as “divine interruptions.” As exciting as some of these changes can be, they can interrupt our feelings of well-being, and they can leave us feeling very much alone and forgotten; so we question: “Where is God anyway? Why am I having such a difficult time finding God?”
It’s important to remember that the promises of Jeremiah 29:13-14 are never nullified by subjective feelings. Because we feel that God is far from us doesn’t mean He is. In fact, He has told us that He will never leave us or forsake us, and since He never lies, we have to hold onto what we know about God’s character; therefore, we reject incorrect conclusions about our circumstances when those conclusions contradict what we know about God from His Word.
For the key to “finding” God, we have to go back to Psalm 77. After the psalmist laments that God has rejected him and His love has vanished (vv. 7-8), he comes to his senses and writes verses 11-12, giving us the two-part solution to feeling abandoned by God: “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” First, he determines to remember God’s deeds and His miracles. Just remembering how God saved us from a life of futility and an eternity in hell should give us a proper perspective on His love. When we remember the many times He intervened in our lives in the form of answered prayer, we are reminded of His faithfulness. Some people find it helpful to keep a journal of answered prayer which they can refer back to in the “dry” times of doubts and confusion.
Second, the psalmist determines to meditate on God’s works and His deeds. Meditating on God’s Word is the only sure way to come to right conclusions about God. Those who are “blessed” in Psalm 1 are those who mediate on God’s law—the Bible—“day and night.” It delights us (v. 2) and makes us strong, fruitful and able to withstand life’s storms without withering (v. 3). But if we neglect the Word, we neglect the only means of sanctification in our lives and leave ourselves open to the lies of the devil, who would like nothing better than to convince us that God has abandoned us.
Jeremiah promises that when we seek God with all our hearts, God will be found. As the hours turn into days, and the days turn into weeks, dare to be one who’s on a never-ending quest to find God in every single day, to remember and meditate on His mighty words, and to welcome His “divine interruptions.”