Why Does God Seem Distant?
Do you struggle with habitual sin and feel as if God is distant whenever you have sinned?
Do you struggle with the thought that perhaps God doesn’t accept you or approve you – especially after you have backslidden?
Do you struggle with guilt and condemnation and the thought that God doesn’t love you because you sin too often?
If you are struggling with any or all of the above issues it might be due to a very simple reason. The reason can be summed up in one word: FEELINGS.
Psalms 34:18 NKJV
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
Psalms 51:17 NKJV
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart — These, O God, You will not despise.
The word “contrite” is defined as feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offences; penitent; repentant.
Both Psalms 34:18 & Psalms 51:17 tell us that God saves and He is near to those who have a contrite heart. Therefore, God DOES NOT distance Himself from people who feel contrite, repentant or sorrowful for their sins. God is close to the broken-hearted and He does not despise broken people because He wants to save and mend them.
Should You Trust Your Feelings?
You cannot always trust your feelings. But you can ALWAYS trust God’s word.
The wrong feelings will give us the wrong perceptions of our situation.
If we live according to our feelings and not by faith in God’s word, we will create the wrong perception of God’s character and the mercy and grace that He offers us whenever we have sinned.
Why Do We Feel God Is Distant When We Sin or Backslide?
So why does God seem distant? Below is what internally happens to us whenever we feel as if God is distant, especially when we have sinned or backslidden:
- We Have Not Confessed Our Sin
Whenever we sin, it’s very important for us to confess our sins to God. A sign that we are sorrowful or willing to repent of our sins is through the confession of our sins to the Lord.
1 John 1:9 ESV – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- We Feel Condemned
Feelings of condemnation can make us feel as if God is distant. However, scripture tells us that those people who are born again Christians are not condemned. Therefore a Christian should never walk in condemnation.
Romans 8:1 ESV – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
John 3:18 ESV – Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
- We Are Listening to the Accuser of the Brethren
The devil will try to make you believe that your sin is too big for God to forgive you. Sometimes the devil may even make you believe that you have sinned too often that your confessions and your remorse mean nothing to God. First the devil tempts you. When you fall for the temptation, he then accuses you of your sin as if he himself was not involved in your temptation.
Any thought pattern concerning your sin that does not bring to light God’s saving grace, God’s mercy and God’s willingness to forgive your sins through Christ will actually be the voice of the devil trying to tell you that there is no way out for your sin.
However, there is a way out. His name is Jesus and He died for our sins on the cross.
John 3:16-18 ESV – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Revelation 12:10-11 ESV – And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
- We Have Failed to Understand that God is Not a Man
Unlike man, God promises to forget our sins and to forgive us of our sins when we confess them.
God chooses not to remember our sins when He forgives us. People may hold grudges and people may choose not to forgive, however God unlike a human is always faithful to forgive and forget when we sincerely confess our sins.
Isaiah 43:25 ESV – I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.
- We Falsely Believe That We Are Saved by our Works and not by Grace
When we consciously or sub-consciously believe that we are saved by our personal works or personal effort, we will create the false impression in our minds that God distances Himself from us whenever we miss the mark.
While God hates sin, it’s important for us to realize that God does not hate the sinner. It’s the very reason why Christ came; because God loves us despite our flaws (John 3:16)
God does not judge us according to our personal works because our own effort can never give us salvation. It’s work of Christ on the cross that brings salvation.
Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
I would like to encourage you by saying that there is hope and we can always rely on the love, grace and mercy of God in our daily walk with the Lord. God is near to those with a contrite heart (Psalms 51:17).
The Bible also clearly says that the “just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). Therefore we cannot live by our feelings, because our feelings can mislead us. Our feelings are dictated by external circumstances, but our faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). Faith is therefore dependent on hearing and believing God’s word and God’s promises irrespective of the external factors.
So where is God when we have sinned? God is very close to you (Psalms 34:18). He will never leave you nor forsake you.