Do you ever go through times where it feels like God has left you? Last night in my sleep, I had a horrible experience where it felt like nothing but emptiness in my gut. Like the Holy Spirit wasn’t there. What do you do when you feel like giving up? J.G.
The old time saints referred to times like this as the “dark night of the soul.” Everyone who follows Christ will experience it. There is a sense in which it is a test from God. “Will J.G. believe Me even when he does not “feel” My presence?”
John the Baptist went through the dark night of the soul when King Herod put him in prison. John sent some of his friends to Jesus to ask Him if He really was the Messiah (the Christ). See Matt. 11:2-6. Elijah the prophet went through it, too. So did Jonah. You are in good company!
Watch out for your emotions. Your feelings can lie to you! Created in God’s image, we are trinity. We are spirit, soul (which is your mind, will, and emotions), and body. When we repent and give our lives to Christ we are saved and we are given a new spirit. We are “born again” (John 3:3). We relate to God through our new spirit. The daily problem is that our salvation is not complete until we reach heaven. In other words we still have our unsaved soul and body in this life. Our new spirit battles against our “old man” called “the flesh” which is our soul. See Romans 7:24-25. Because we are not yet glorified our emotions can lie to us!
Our salvation is in three stages: justification, sanctification, and glorification. Justification is the new birth. It is when we first believe. At the point of salvation we are forgiven and can stand before God justified because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin. After justification comes sanctification or growing in grace and faith, maturing in Christ. That is where you and I are right now. Glorification happens in eternity when we are raised from the dead and receive our new, forever bodies. Pretty cool, huh?
So feed the “new man” (your spirit) and starve the “old man” (your soul or “flesh”). This will strengthen the one and weaken the other. We walk by faith not by sight (or feelings I might add). See 2 Corinthians 5:7.
~ Pastor Chris
I have a question. We live life with a purpose. When we are faced with a difficult situation, how do we know that we are responding according to God’s word?
Thank You in advance.
You are already on the right track. The spirit you show in this question tells me that you are genuinely seeking the Lord. The Bible says that God “…rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). God will bless you with insight into the situations of life so that you will know how to respond in ways that please Him.
First, maintain the spiritual discipline of reading, meditating, and studying the Bible. Take no shortcuts here. The more of God’s Word you have in your heart the more insight God will give you into the situations of life. His Word “…is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). The word “active” (Gk. energes) means powerful, effective. God will never contradict His Word. He will never ask you to do something that is against His Word.
Second, ask God for insight and wisdom as to how to handle the situations of life. This was Solomon’s request of the Lord when he became king of Israel. He prayed, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people…” (2 Chronicles 1:10). God answered Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire…wisdom and knowledge will be given you” (2 Chronicles 1:11-12).
Third, commit to submit. Decide ahead of time to submit to God’s will and to carry out His directions. Sometimes God’s will makes no logical sense to the human mind. The battle of Jericho is a case in point (Joshua 6). God’s people were told to march around the walls of Jericho seven times while the priests were blowing trumpets. After this the priests were to sound a long blast on the trumpets and the people were to give a loud shout. They were told that the walls would then collapse – and they did! This strategy makes no sense to the analytical human mind. However, God wanted His people to respond to their situation in that way at that time.
Fourth, listen for the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit (1 Kings 19:12, KJV). He will nudge your heart and will never go against the Word of God. Be careful not to confuse the prompting of the Holy Spirit with the fleshly desires of your heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). Your heart can and will lie to you unless it is fully given over to God.
Finally, seek out human counselors that are Spirit-led, biblically based, and have nothing to gain from you for their insight or advice. Proverbs 11:14 tells us that “many advisors make victory sure.”
~ Pastor Chris