King David sometimes felt this way. Repeatedly he asked, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?” (Ps 42:5, 11; 42:5). “O Lord, why do you reject my soul? Why do you hide your face from me?” (Ps 88:14). After confronting the prophets of Baal, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life … he went a day’s journey into the wilderness … and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life, I am no better than my ancestors.’” (1 Kings 19:3).
Going through times when we feel God is far away is a normal human experience. The prophets felt it. God even allowed his own Son to experience it. At the moment He paid the penalty for our sins, He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). So, when those times come, what are we to do?
We are to remember that the feeling of God being distant is temporary. This is what sustained King David in his dark times. In every case, he declared, “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him.” When we feel God is far away, we are often filled with worry, uncertainty, doubt and despair. But this will not last. We will yet feel His presence again and praise Him.
We must rely on God’s promises and not on our feelings. Even when we don’t feel His presence, He is near. Repeatedly God has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6,8; Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5). Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). David wrote, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day.” (Ps. 139:7-12).