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Why is it so hard to feel God

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14 February 2005, 03:04 AM
in the face of God
Why is it so hard to feel God
I have been corrisponding with a friend who is trying to find the reality of God. However he is depressed because it is so hard for him to experice the presence of God. Im in the same boat why does God not let us know how much he loves us by making his Spirit so real in the lives of those who search for him. SO let me in on the secret if there is one because this is depressing.
14 February 2005, 10:24 AM
You raise an issue that can have different explanations, depending upon your journey up to this point, including the type of prayer life you've had and the faith community you belong to. Could you share more about your experience, both of prayer, and your beliefs about God?

Periods of feeling God's absence aren't necessarily a sign of His withdrawal from you, but can be a sign He is working simply beyond your ability to notice. The soul's faculties, even intuition and the heart's feeling awareness, are not always able to know when and how the Holy Spirit is involved. Since we need to know more about your experience, I'm just throwing out some possible descriptions, which may not apply in your case.

Another possibility is the way in which an emotional crisis can obscure the presence of God. Not that He isn't present, but that the soul's attention is absorbed with emotional pain, and so the turbulence can overcome the mind's conscious ability to perceive God's softer touch. And, God can be working through an emotional crisis, appearing in not such a soft way, although ultimately kind: healing the wound can sometimes make the wound hurt more than when we weren't paying attention to it.
14 February 2005, 12:58 PM
I have been corrisponding with a friend who is trying to find the reality of God. However he is depressed because it is so hard for him to experice the presence of God. Im in the same boat why does God not let us know how much he loves us by making his Spirit so real in the lives of those who search for him. SO let me in on the secret if there is one because this is depressing.

I've never mistook WC for God, as smart as he is sometimes. In fact, I'm not even sure there *is* a God, and the primary reason for that, despite some evidence I've had in support, is that I have the exact same problem that you do. How come my neighbor's car alarm is so darn easy to detect but something as vastly important as God is so subtle and hidden? It's almost as if He were maliciously playing hide and seek.

As I said, I've never mistook WC for God, but if there is a God, and he made all of us out of love and for love, then that love and influence sits smack dab there through the wisdom and compassion of that fellow named WC. His answer may not be perfect but that he tried to help must be evidence for something.

Also, it might help to just come out and say what ails you and your friend at the moment. We could spend 10,000 words and not come up with the exact answer to your original question. Has anyone ever through the centuries been able to answer that question to everyone's satisfaction? But in the meantime some of these people here might be able to give an immediate demonstration of goodness through their problem-solving, and for me, that's enough evidence for the moment.
14 February 2005, 05:25 PM
Originally posted by in the face of God:
[qb] I have been corrisponding with a friend who is trying to find the reality of God. However he is depressed because it is so hard for him to experice the presence of God. Im in the same boat why does God not let us know how much he loves us by making his Spirit so real in the lives of those who search for him. SO let me in on the secret if there is one because this is depressing. [/qb]
You mention that your friend is depressed, and I think that's the key to the dilemma, here. "Feeling" God's presence seems to be what's sought, and that, perhaps, as an "antidote" or "cure" for the depression. I do not doubt God's ability to stir sweet emotions in a depressed person, but the more successful approach, here, would be to ask God for the courage to face one's inner demons and find new purpose in life.

Here are a few other suggestions:
1. Pray.
2. Pray
3. Pray
etc. Wink

By this I mean turning one's mind and heart to God, and bringing them back again and again and again. I guarantee you that anyone who takes two one-hour blocks of time to pray each day for two weeks will have experience of God's peace and reality. The depression might remain as well, but there could be a peace and inner resolve to enable one to work through its issues.

The biggest mistake, here, is to ask God to jump through one's hoops to prove God's reality. For those who have faith and who surrender their lives to God's care, there are proofs aplenty all the time. Just this faith alone is proof, of a sort.
15 February 2005, 04:51 PM
Hi folks! This may not be pertinent to the thread, however, I just wanted to share. My mom got married on Sunday. She is 86 years old!! Hope. Blessing. Gratitude. They 86 and 84 are like to young kids (about 16 I would say). God is blessing them with new life, now, here on earth. We don't know for how long. Does that matter. We only have this moment in time. Life. A blessing. God is in this moment. A blessing!
15 February 2005, 09:57 PM
Indeed! And how good it is they have a family to support them.
16 February 2005, 02:36 AM
in the face of God
To be more specific. I have been a christian for 10 years and i do know what the presence of God is like. I can find it anywhere in silence, in service, in prayer and worship, in the deepest agony of my soul. I can sense the presence of the Lord and i know him. But for me it is almost like his presence is far away right now. I realize that this is probably because i am slipping away from Him. And I need to come back to him in full, but why is God making his presence and reality hard for my friend to find. HE is searching for God and his reality. My friend who is reading his bible and praying and asking God to be real to him so that he knows he will be going to heaven, instead of hell. He is looking for clarity from God. TO be loved by God. That God would tell him beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is there with him. This is why it is depressing because God is so big yet for some people he seems so far away or not even at all.
16 February 2005, 10:25 AM
It is really impossible to respond to your friend's dilemma through your descriptions, however close the two of you may be. Why not invite him to this forum? But even then, spiritual direction through this service is pretty limited, at least compared to having a spiritual director where human trust and grace mix together in actual company.

If your friend conceives of God as possibly sending him to hell, then there is strong fear indicated that could easily be obscuring the presence of the Holy Spirit. And I'd guess that there could be a great deal of shame involved with the fear, and these together can paralyze the soul, obsessing the mind to such an extent that the attention isn't relaxed enough to receive the grace already present. God already loves your friend, so the block is on his side, not God's. However, as I said, for people who are struggling with shame and fear from early childhood experiences, telling them they are resisting often only reinforces their sense of unworthiness. The kinds of experiences we had as children profoundly shape what we expect God to be, since our souls were wide open in the early years; hence, the obscurations can run very deep. If those experiences were consistently painful, then they have to be dealth with, usually in psychotherapy, before the Divine therapist can make much of an impression; otherwise we will continue to expect, mostly unconsciously, from God what we experienced from abusive parents, and God simply cannot appear to us under those conditions.

As for the comments about yourself, God never leaves you. But His work in you will always be partly beyond your ability to perceive, since that is just the innate difference between the psychology of creatures and the metaphysics of the Creator. If your not being afflicted by your friend's apparent fear and shame, then it is simply a time to wait . . . to keep prayer very simple, just a waiting, even where the imagination is no help. But if you, like your friend, view God as a kind of abusive parent waiting to unleash disapproval, then there could be some fear impeding the perception of contact during prayer. In such cases, fear and shame make us work too hard, blunting our own subtler receptive sensibilities. This working too hard is itself a form of resistance.

All our psychological pains are awakened during a life of prayer, since they are all rooted in the longing for God. If we are harsh with these experiences as they unfold, then there can be a different quality to the dark nights we pass through - not only moments when God is present but beyond our ability to perceive, or when we feel so tiny and helpless as creatures before the Almighty - but gripped in pains that need space in the heart so they can heal. Many people seeking God get discouraged because they aren't dealing with psychological pain along the way.

So what does it mean when you say "I am slipping away from Him."

Again, if you aren't resisting some newly unearthed emotional material, or trauma, it could be you are passing through what St. John of the Cross calls a "Dark Night." Such is an arid passage of the soul as it waits upon God who is always more than it can comprehend or even remotely feel. So the "full" presence of God you long for changes when we are stretched to a new receptive capacity, which you may be in the middle of.

How long has that been going on? And do you have a spiritual director?
16 February 2005, 11:54 AM
Ditto w.c.'s remarks. Spiritual direction is highly advisable in both situations described, here. Ideally, this would be with someone face-to-face, and I can help with referrals. Please send an email to We also offer these services through this site.

To my comments about prayer above, I would add that making a retreat can also be helpful. I've seen it happen very often that taking a few days off for rest, silence, prayer, good meals, long walks, etc. can help to restore one to balance and a renewed sense of God's presence. Retreats are very special times, I believe.
16 February 2005, 01:25 PM
Hi there!

I agree with much of what w.c. says above but would probably offer a different perspective.

Firstly, feeling should not be a criterion for faith; we believe because of God's grace, not because God proves His existence through feeling or any other form of experience. Neither does God require us to feel His presence. Rather He expects of us both faith and obedience, and only then will He reveal Himself in a personal, experiential way.

Take John 14:21,23.

"He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father and I will love him and MANIFEST MYSELF TO HIM."

Verse 23 is similar. There is a requirement to believe and keep the command of love before God makes His home with anyone.

I may be way off the mark, but perhaps your friend should ask himself if he truly wants to follow Christ? Is he willing to obey or is there something holding him back? Look at the parable of the sower in Luke 8, where everything from the cares of the world to the devil himself prevent the seed of the Word from settling in the believer's heart.

Ofcourse, your friend could be living the perfect Christian life, believing and serving God, loving Him with all His heart. But still the fact remains that faith and obedience are what God wants. Don't get me wrong, I don't think we need to be perfect for God to be present with us, on the contrary, but I do think the intention has to be there, we have to believe, and if your friend is truly seeking God with all his heart, then I'm sure He will show Himself. I just think it's necessary to identify the things in our lives which prevent this, and I don't think there has to be any deep seated psychological explanation, nor do I think that Christ dealt with people on a psychological basis, but rather presented them with simple choices - God or mammon, the Spirit or the flesh, Christ or the world.

Feelings are pretty unsubstantial, not to be trusted; faith on the other hand is built on the rock of the revelation that Christ is the Son of God, and on this realisation, like Peter in Matthew 16:17, we can really be called "Blessed." The reality of God is found in this, not by way of prove through any notion of feeling His presence.
16 February 2005, 01:46 PM
in the face of God
Thank you all for your encouragement and advice, and I am sorry for asking such imature questions. In my own spiritual life I know that God is a loving father never to be afraid of only to be revered. I'm pretty sure my friend feels that way too, and he is just making the first steps into his life of faith. I told him that this lifestry isnt based on seeing and touching, but based completly on beliving that God is who he says he is. That all that is required is to have faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and follow Him and His teachings. Even if he cant fully sense Gods presence now. So I am encouraging him to keep a journal of his conversations with God, and to practice listening prayer. I believe that God will be faithfull and meet my searching friend at the opportune time. Again thanks for your comments.
16 February 2005, 03:10 PM
Thank you all for your encouragement and advice, and I am sorry for asking such imature questions.

Well, after reading Phil�s and WC�s follow-up answers I can only say, "Only if you�ll forgive the immature answers." Wink (Speaking only for myself, of course.)

I, for one, am not struggling with the volume of God�s voice but with the very notion that there might be a frequency to tune into in the first place. Let me just say that I had a minor epiphany the other day when I was (at least a little bit) able to let go of the "What�s in it for me?" aspect of it all. Some of us are so in need that we need the equivalent of a God 911 service where you make the call (the wish, the prayer) and then lights start flashing, sirens go off, your front door is kicked down and there at the rescue are a couple of able and willing para-(normal?)-medics. Instead, the reality is that our intense need can jam the transmission lines.

But I had a sudden thought, due to an experience I don�t wish to publicly relate, that what is really important, and perhaps the point of it all, was to be on the side (associated with, aligned with, nurtured by, whatever) of goodness and light and that that was all that I could hope or ask for. That side of goodness and light is there all the time staring us all in the face. We can join in no matter how deep our beliefs or how loud or subtle our God.

Hope this helps.
16 February 2005, 04:11 PM
His sheep know the voice of the Shepherd. If I have no desire to get to know him by reading and hearing His love letters, all 66 of them, then I have no part with Him. If I am to be His disciple, I must hear His word and obey, or I have no part with Him.
If I believe Him, then I believe in the One who sent Him. Amen. Smiler


mm <*)))))><
17 February 2005, 12:28 AM
in the face of God
W.C. In resonse to whether or not my friend or I have been in a small prayer group. I have been yes and i have attended Bible College for two years, but Im not aware what the group Lectio process is. My friend has only been to one Alpha course. During my time at college I grew much in the Lord and thought that it would be impossible no to know Him the same for ever. My friends and I used to go to a taize services and have small prayer groups. I havent done either of these in a while. My home church has been dying for some time too and i find my self quite bored there. I think this is how I have been distancing my self from God. Spending no real time with Him. I started getting the daily spiritual seed from this web site and it has helped a bit Thanks for the links.
17 February 2005, 12:00 PM
Sounds like you have quite a good foundation, and are going through what most of us humans go through. It is amazing how we'll spend time in fantasy but less time recollecting the presence of God. And I can imagine how the falling apart of your church has brought discouragement and affected your motivation to seek new connections, but which you are doing now, it sounds like.

Could you be angry with God?

Lectio Divina is a simple process compatible with both Protestant and Catholic thinking. You'll see what I mean when you read the outline. In fact, since you've been in prayer groups, you may have been doing something like it before.
17 February 2005, 04:10 PM

in the face of God, a couple of links that may be helpful. Smiler We're well into Lent, although no one has made mention of it. magic happens during Lent.


mm <*)))))><
17 February 2005, 05:42 PM
We're well into Lent, although no one has made mention of it. magic happens during Lent.

Yeah, I always forget about that. Everybody seems to just disappear and I then instinctively sniff my pits to check for B.O. or somethin�.
17 February 2005, 07:27 PM
Lots of good feedback and info here. There's a larger issue lurking than a response to two friends' wonderings about God's presence, and that is the whole question of the "experience" of God. While I agree with Stephen's point to the effect that God's presence and faith are not feelings, it still stands to reason that there's some kind of experiential dimension to faith . . . else, what real difference does it make?

Without falling into the trap of evaluating God's presence or absence in terms of emotional experience, I think we can safely say that serenity is the most sure sign of a living contact with God. It's also a promise of Christ:
Peace I leave you,
my peace (shalom) I give you,
a peace the world cannot give,
this is my gift to you.
- Jn. 14: 27
Note that this is not a "worldly peace," which is based on "having and getting," but a peace the world cannot take away. I think this peace is the very presence of God, permeating all the levels of our being, co-existing even with the disharmonious aspects. It IS an experience, and we know when we have it and when we don't (desolation). There is an "all is well" sense about it, even when we don't feel so good within ourselves. We can be depressed and grieving and know this peace so long as our mind and will are properly oriented. This is the lesson of the first three of the Twelve Steps: that breaking from our attempts to find "worldly peace" and "turning our lives and will over to the care of God," we can begin to know serenity and to work the other steps that enable us to get our house in order.

And so, as some have pointed out, we need to be sure if we really are straight with God concerning the orientation of our lives and our will. If we are, we will begin to know peace, and even sense God's presence. Cultivating that relationship through prayer and other disciplines will enable it to grow, but there's just no getting past the importance of getting our house in order. God cannot do this inner work for us; the process of facing our past, dealing with our brokenness, forgiving others, etc. is part of the ongoing conversion, enabling peace to deepen and even joy to well up.

As you can see, there's no simple, pat answer to all this--quite a bit of hard work, actually. But it's all so very worth it, and the alternative to doing it so very much isn't worth hanging on to.
18 February 2005, 02:34 AM
in the face of God
Thanks Phil. That makes alot of sense to me. I know that I dont have that peace right now, but I also know that Jesus has given it to me. With some disciple and prayer I think i can recieve it. thanks
18 February 2005, 10:42 PM
The discussion has made me think about how we share the experience of God with those who resist, or, more pertinently, reject that experience.

w.c. mentioned that telling someone they are resisting God, especially when they are struggling with fear and shame from childhood, only enhances their sense of unworthiness. I can see his point. But I think that most people, regardless of upbringing, construct a wall of pride around them, which they constantly build up, brick by brick, when presented with the experience of God - the ego's defense against the soul's true calling, and that that defense acts as a false worthiness which hardens into arrogance and self-satisfaction and is consequently so difficult to break down.

I'm not really one for evangelising. I honestly think that most people, especially in my country, have rejected God. But still I want to share that experience with them in the hope that something of God's beauty will penetrate their lives. The only way I see of doing that is to live like Christ and present a quality of compassion and understanding, while maintaining a degree of righteous, moral living which bears fruit enough for others to see its worth.

Perhaps someone like ITFOG's acquiantance can find the presence of God in the compassion and care of his friend.
22 February 2005, 11:04 PM
Gary Giardina
In the Face of God
This recent conversation seems revealing what some might call the depth of understanding of God's manifested touch in any life.Sir if you are a consistent believer and or activist of prayer the path could certainly provide the perception of sanct connection your current dilemma requires.It's been said and yet it beyond seems true ask via prayer and you shall receive with the priority seeming spiritual matters.Since you're asking for spiritual connection with God it merely takes his spiritual intervention not a physical world intervening which seems of higher judiciousness.Not that he hasn't intervened with matters material.Consistent prayer is the key and an absolutely inspired daily agenda that won't be anxiously tortured in the interim of connection deemed perceptually sound.I've been involved for years with extremely inspired work and occasionally am baffled at the shallow responses of people conflicted from within themselves yet over the protracted years God reveals much with the suspension of goals and if you have a variety of matters that require intervention then accurately appraise which and if any have improved via God's intervention.Prayer without doubt reveals and I don't think there's anyone who would say a sincere list of prayers has worsened the matters invoced of the actual prayer.Could it be God measures everyone's depth and whoever is deemed spiritually sound gets at least that attention which begins with the spirit.I've heard stories of telepathists who have preposterous accounts of conversations claiming connection with beings inspired and occasionally they end up being well meaning clergy and or twisted sources who falsely pacify the source depending on Pavlovian steering.I'm not suggesting the well meaning clergy sources are preposterous yet the twisted impositionalists who lurk amongst these extra sensory mentalities.Clear and identify the obvious clutter from your spiritual conversations and you'll eventually connect with rarified instances of genuine revelation.These are spiritual matters and W.C. seems cognicent of genuine path understood truths though I caution you not to be disillusioned if even ego enters this realm once anything considered expertise is discussed .The emphasis I'm stating is prayer and the knowledge that if it ever seems a challenge then mere perpetuation via perseverence itself eventually provides the inspired resolve.Many might seem rediscent including the realization that challenge occasionally is a variant simul attatchment and discussing it for some might seem a risk of their armor spiritually and existentially yet those challenges if met with absolute sense of purpose and ability to rise above the uninspired should grant you at least God's incremented blessings.And one more thing didn't Christ or some follower say that glorifying the earth is a sanct activity?Absolutely no guilt for survivalism especially if ultimitely realizing the great gift it is.Great wishes for your inpsired path and remember God is brilliant!Take care and God bless.Straight Forword.Absolutey no twisted parallels.Gary V. Giardina.
04 March 2005, 10:01 AM
Hi, I'm new here. My own take on why it is hard to see or hear God is because we don't really want to, and for good reason: His pure, true Information is a flaming fire to the dry kindling of the unregenerate (false) information of human spirit. This is why any movement toward God is necessarily 97% a work on His part and not ours. We love our darkness (Jn 3:19) because in it the Horrible Thing (our true spiritual essence) is (or convinces the intellect that it is) safe.

The fact that one struggles with the distance of God in his or her life is an evidence that God is working therein, as I see it. We are called to participation with that damnable Light, as I've very often come to think of God's Presence (from my 'old man' persepective, of course)as Jesus exhorted, "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Mat 16:24). We don't want to take up His cross; we don't want to die.

This being said, my own first experience of God was a brief but powerful sensation of the purest love, almost like a warm ray of sunlight, experienced as I lay in bed reading the Living Bible in 1973 at 2 am. That was my base. Much of God's presence in my life since then, especially a three year period from '92-'94 has been pure hell, with a healthy dose of fulfillment and wonder, too.

God is at one and the same time the most desireable and most feared and hated Entity you will ever encounter...

Exodus 34:10 Then God said, "Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth, nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the LORD, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with [in]you.

No wonder we humans are such a mess! Our most desired and beloved is also our death.

My two cents worth, anyway.
04 March 2005, 10:08 PM
And a good two cents it is! Smiler

I agree that our intuitions of God's holiness are such that we know they spell the death of any kind of self we have put together on our own, and this is one of the reasons why we avoid God (especially initially). Once one gets a good drink from that deep love you described, however, one knows that this is our true "home" and that anything which keeps us away just isn't worth hanging on to. Nevertheless, that old false self can put up a struggle, can't it? Wink
14 April 2005, 02:44 AM
Gary Giardina
Beware of those who say God is death.Remember what John Paul II said and I'm paraphrasing his words"I'm[speaking of himself] not an actor I'm only the Pope".Some people don't have hidden agendas with their theophilosophical slants.Take care and God bless.Straight Forword.Definitely absolutely no twisted parallels.Gary V. Giardina.
14 April 2005, 02:48 AM
Gary Giardina
Shalomplace your clock is wrong or should I say it quotes Eastern time.My recent conversation said 12:44 April 14th.Actually it is and was 11:44 April 13th.Take care and God bless.Straight Forwrod.No twisted parallels.Gary V. Giardina.