One of my online friends, an ex-Jehovah’s Witness and a fairly new Christian, wrote to tell me that he was feeling discouraged. He said that he had been depressed and felt as if no one was listening when he prayed. This struck a chord with me, since I feel that way from time to time. In fact, I’d imagine that nearly every Christian does at times. The first time these feelings come to a new Christian, however, has to be disturbing and rather difficult to deal with.
Here’s what I wrote back to him:
As far as feeling depressed and as if God isn’t listening: you need to remember that the promises God has made in His Word are not dependent on how we feel about them. He says that if we confess our sins and receive Christ, He saves us. If we have done that, we are saved whether or not we FEEL saved. I can’t tell you how often I don’t feel saved, or don’t feel like anyone is listening when I pray. God promises that I am and that He is, no matter how I feel, so I do it anyway. Feelings change from day to day, even from minute to minute. God’s promises are solid as a rock. He says He will never leave or forsake us.
Most of us had an emotional high when we first came to the Lord. At some point, the realities of life set in and emotions fade. Ever been in love? You know how high you are emotionally at first when you make that connection with someone? After you’ve been together a while, the emotions fade and love becomes a more mature relationship involving commitment and mutual honor. It’s sort of like that with God, too. You won’t always be on a mountain top, but He will be with you no matter where you go. You have made a commitment to Him, too, and it’s important to persevere, even if you go through a period where you don’t feel like it.
Some people say they do “feel” the presence of God when they pray or worship. I’m not completely sure what that means. I don’t feel an external presence, but there have certainly been times when I had no doubt that He was listening. Also, looking back on my life, I can see many times when prayers were answered (of which I have to keep reminding myself).
Feelings are not the key – if you have them, that’s great, but feelings can also be deceiving. An unsaved person might come to church, enjoy the music, be moved by the sermon and make a profession of faith based upon his emotional state at the time. As time goes by, however, it becomes obvious that his life has not been affected by his “decision” on that one occasion. Did he truly come to God in repentance and commitment? Probably not. His feelings may have deceived him into thinking he is right with God when he really isn’t.
On the other hand, a person may be a true believer but have a bad time in some area of life that causes him to become depressed and discouraged. He begins to question his salvation, maybe even question the existence of God. His feelings, too, are deceiving him into thinking that God’s promises are anything less than solid for him.
God loves you; you are His child. He will not abandon you. Just trust him.
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?