Friday, March 3, 2017

When You Feel Abandoned by God, 10th Update on Kristen, & LOTS of FREE STUFF!!

"And they that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee: 
for Thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee."
Psalm 9:10
(KJV)

Have you ever felt abandoned by God?
Have you ever cried out to Him from the pits of despair,
only to feel that your prayers didn't go past the ceiling?
Has His ensuing silence perplexed you and left you feeling completely alone?
Have you ever felt like He is a million miles away...
just when you need Him most?


Yesterday, dear Zach and I were in the car coming home from an appointment,
and we passed a church sign with these familiar words,
"If God no longer feels close to you, who moved?"

I pondered it a moment, then I spoke.
"Did you see that sign?

"Yeah."
I knew exactly what was going through Zach's mind.

"I don't wholeheartedly go along with that",
I replied.

Zach agreed.

He had just told me the night before that even though he has been seeking the Lord very earnestly and diligently, he hasn't "felt" God near to him lately.

I understand.
I've been there.
Many times over.

I feel like I must be the strange one as I listen to other Christians testify and talk of how, in their darkest moments,
God feels so incredibly near to them.
How He draws closer to them when they are walking through their deepest times of grief and despair. 
How they experience His presence in the most astounding ways while they stand in the midst of fiery furnaces heated seven times hotter than usual.  (Daniel 3:19)
I listen, and I feel no affinity, because I cannot, from personal experience, agree with the "feeling" part.
As I listen, I'll admit, what I feel is, less than.
Like God must deal with everyone else a whole lot differently and more intimately than He deals with me.
Coming from someone who has been a Christian for right around 40 years, 
this may surprise you and please don't judge me too harshly, but, the truth is,
I don't feel God in the hard places.
I desperately struggle to hear His voice.
There are no sensations of warmth or a noticeable being pulled in closer to Him or blatant, visible signs that He is with me.

To tell you the truth, when I am in the throes of deep trial,
I usually can't sense God at all.
I reach for Him, and it feels like He is nowhere to be found.
It feels like He has taken a few steps back, away from me, and that He has said,
"Go ahead.  You're on your own."

Now, I know, based on His Holy Word, this is definitely not what happens, in reality.

After all, right before His ascension, Jesus said, 
"...lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Matthew 28:20

But, if I am completely transparent with you,
complete abandonment is what it feels like to me.

I wonder if Job felt like this when he wrote,
"Oh that I knew where I might find Him! that I might come even to His seat!
Behold, I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him:
On the left hand, where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him: He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him..."
Job 23:3,8-9

I think of Jesus and how He cried from the cross,
"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, 
My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
Mark 15:34

Have you ever felt like crying those words?
I'll be completely transparent and tell you the truth...from the bottom of my heart.
there have been moments that I have.
More than once Several times.
There isn't time nor space to tell of them all, but two of those times were the moments, days, weeks, months, even years, following the death of both of my parents.

The circumstances surrounding their individual deaths were very different,
but my feelings of being God-forsaken were very much the same.

When Dad died in June of 2000, I was 11 1/2 weeks along in my pregnancy with Zach.
After many years of infertility struggles,
I was finally expecting the miracle baby for whom Kevin and I had longed and prayed.
Though Dad had several step-grandchildren, he had no biological grandchildren of his own.
I will never forget the tears of joy Dad cried when Kevin and I told him and Mom that we were going to have a baby.
He was SO happy.
Then, just a few weeks later, tragedy struck.
Dad had a massive heart attack, was hospitalized, and never returned back home.

To say I was shocked doesn't come close to expressing what it felt like.
I was devastated beyond words.
I could not believe Dad was really gone.
How could God justify taking him?
Especially then?
It felt so unfair to me....to Dad.
He would never live to see his one and only biological grandson.
I just couldn't find any sense in it at all,
other than to know that my dear Dad's many-years-long battle with physical suffering was finally over.

The months that followed contained some of the most bittersweet days of my life.
My feelings would soar, as I dreamed of holding the precious baby God was finally sending to us, and, just as quickly, they would plummet to the pits of despair as I felt I could not bear to go on without Dad.
I prayed so hard.
I sought after God.
Begged Him to help me through.
Granted, He did.
I am still here.
Still standing.
Still trusting Him with all my heart.
But, I'll tell you the truth, while it was happening, I did not feel His presence.
It felt like a deep, aching vacuum...completely devoid of the comfort of God.
It's odd how a lot of that span of time is erased from my memory now,
but Kevin speaks of how I cried myself to sleep every, single night.
It was the most hopeless-hopeful rollercoaster I've ever experienced.
Such conflicting emotions, and, through it all, a struggle to sense the presence of God.

Fast forward to April of 2012, immediately after the death of my dear mother.
Zach was 11 years old then and very attached to his Nana.
We had all prayed and begged God to heal her...to bring her through.
One.  More.  Time.
God's will was to end her suffering and take her home to be with Him...and Dad.
We finally accepted it as being His will, but did I feel God?
I was too consumed with grief to feel anything else.
To be honest, I think I was numb to anything other than sorrow.
I was in a very dark place for a very long time.
I felt void of hope.
Void of the blessing of God's presence.
Just void.

So, if I feel like God forsakes me every time I am hit with the hard trials,
you may ask, why do I keep serving Him?
What keeps me pressing on, if it feels like He abandons me when it matters most?

It is because I have learned that fact and feelings are worlds apart.
I have found that I cannot base anything that has to do with my relationship with God
upon feelings.
Not one thing.

Feelings are the most fickle things in the world.
Feelings are not reliable.
Feelings are not indicative of what is true.
They fluctuate with the ebb and flow of life's ups and downs.

This Christian walk is not a walk that is built upon feelings, but 100% upon faith.
"For we walk by faith, not by sight..."
2 Corinthians 5:7

Not one of us has ever seen God.
None of us were there to see Jesus being born into this world as God in the flesh.
Who among us can say that we were eyewitnesses to His horrifying crucifixion,
or that we were one in the number who saw Him after He resurrected from the dead?

I keep serving God, even though I feel abandoned in the hard places, because He has proven my feelings wrong time after time after time.
He has shown me repeatedly that I cannot afford to place my faith in my feelings.
That He IS there with me...always.
That He has been the 4th Man in the fire every, single time my little family of 3 has walked through the raging fiery furnace.
 That He has stayed there as long as we did.
That He didn't walk out one moment before us.

I keep serving Him because He has let me stand on the mountain time after time and look back over the valley He just brought me through and shown me how, in my darkest moments,
even though I couldn't feel Him...couldn't find Him...anywhere...
He was there.
All along.
Often carrying me.


If video doesn't load, click here.

I keep serving Him because He has brought me through so many times, dear friends, and in the aftermath, He has allowed me to experience the "nevertheless afterward" that follows each and every trial.

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
Hebrews 12:11 (emphasis added)

There is always, always a "nevertheless afterward".
There is a beginning and an end to every, single trial we face in this life.
It is in the "nevertheless afterward" that we see visible evidence of what God was doing all along.
It manifests in our lives by way of peaceable fruit of righteousness.
Even though we haven't felt His presence during the trial,
the indelible footprint of His having been there is left behind.
During the times we feel abandoned, there are changes being made, to and in us, that will not be made evident, 
until afterwards.
And, that, my friend, is the living proof that we were never alone.
We never walk out of a trial the same way we walked into it.
God is there, in the shadows,
working on our character, proving whether or not we will keep our faith,
even when we cannot feel.
He is there.
All along.
Even when we cannot see Him.
Even when we can't feel Him.

It is in those moments of feeling totally abandoned that He is standing close by,
testing our faith.

What good is faith if it is never tested?
How do you know it works, if it is never tried?

If you keep reading the story of Job, his very next words, after uttering the ones about not being able to find God in his trials, were these,
"But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
Job 23:10

Job knew God well enough to know that there would come a "nevertheless afterward" to his trial.
He knew that something was going on inside of him that would be manifest and become evident later on.

When you are in the depths of trial, and you cannot feel or sense God,
it is then that you must trust.
That He does all things well.
That He is near you, even though it feels like He has turned His back on you and walked away.
That you cannot go by feelings, you must walk forward by faith.
That you have to rely upon what you know to be truth, otherwise you will fall for satan's lies.
That you are not alone, regardless how forsaken you feel.


If video doesn't load, click here.

There is a reason for the trials He permits in our lives, though we cannot see those reasons during the worst of times.

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
I Peter 4:12,13

The dear Lord is trying to perfect us.
To fit us for Heaven, where all is holy and righteous and good.
To make us better vessels for future use.
To prove that He is faithful even when it doesn't feel like it.

Something occurred to me the other day that I have never thought of before.

When the three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the raging, fiery furnace because they refused to bow to any god other than the one, true God Jehovah,
something amazing happened.
As the king who doled out their punishment watched them from outside the furnace,
he saw, not three men walking around, but four.
He said the fourth man looked like the Son of God.
I personally believe the fourth man WAS the Son of God.
The king saw Him in the furnace with the three Hebrew children,
but, this is the thing that hit me the other day for the first time,
did the three Hebrew children know the Lord was with them in that furnace?
Did they see Him?
Did they sense His presence?
Did they feel Him near?
Or, did they feel abandoned and God-forsaken?

The Bible does not tell us that the three Hebrew children were conversing with Him,
and we are given no indication that they even realized He was there.
But, the king, and you and I, we all know He was there.
The king's words are living proof recorded in the Word of God.

Sometimes, when we are in the midst of a heated, fiery trial, 
even though we can't see, feel, or hear God, those who are looking on see a different view.
It is easier to make sense of a perplexing situation if you are not the one living it.

Whether or not they knew He was with them during their awful ordeal,
as the three Hebrew children walked out of that furnace,
there was visible proof that a 4th Man had been present in the fire, right along with them.
They walked out different than they walked in.
You see, when they were thrown into the fire, they were firmly tied. (Daniel 3:23)
Then something amazing happened!
"Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellers, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.  He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
Daniel 3:24,25

No longer were they bound; they were loose!
The purpose the fire had served was to burn off their binding ropes.

Even though we may feel abandoned by God while walking through the hardest parts of our lives,
the 4th Man is always in the fire with us, and He is working for our good,
oftentimes setting us free from the things that bind us.

"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Emphasis added)
Hebrews 13:20,21

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28

I do not know what you are going through, my friend,
but wherever you find yourself today, know this.
God is with you.
He has not abandoned you.
You will survive this, because He is walking close by your side.
All of this...every, single thing you are going through...
the good, the bad, the joy, the pain....
is working together for your good.

Be encouraged and know that He is with you always!

***************************************************

I wish I had better news to report concerning my dear niece, Kristen.
There are no improvements.
She continues to struggle and desperately needs your continued prayers.
Thankfully, she was able to get into a cardiologist who suspects a specific heart condition.
We will know more about that after she is equipped with a heart monitor next week.
The fight has been very long-lasting and hard to understand.
Surely, God has a plan, and I must keep reminding myself of my own words above.
This is one of those times that the dear Lord seems so far away.
We continue to trust Him and His perfect timing,
praising Him for all He has already done,
and we are expecting healing and long life for both Kristen and her dear baby boy.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the many prayers you are lifting on their behalf.
It truly means more to us than we could ever say!

*********************************************************
Last, but not least,
we have added a bunch of new items to our FREE THRIFT STORE PAGE!!
Do you like to do crafts?
There is lots of ribbon, lace, flowers, stencils, etc., there waiting to find a new home!
(UPDATE:
Ribbon, stencils, and several other things are gone, but we still have some things left!)
Hurry on over, and take a look!
Do you like baseball?
There is an autographed 8x10 Ryan Klesko picture in a frame!!
We also added some more books, and we will be adding other small items, Lord willing, as we continue to work through our minimizing process.
Please click HERE and take a look.
If you see anything you like, let us know.
By the way, there is NO LIMIT on the number of things you take.
We just want to bless you and to give this stuff to a loving home.
If you will use it, or if you want or need it, please ask for it, and it will be yours, free of charge!
Take a little, or take it all!
Allow us to bless you!
Whoever asks for it first will be its new owner. ☺
God bless you all!

62 comments:

  1. As for Kristen, I think it's a good news to know that she's not getting worse, it means that the Lord is 'hearing' our prayers !
    I suppose that everyone of us has felt abandoned by Him, sometimes, at least as if He were so so far to not to be able and see us , but the time always refutes this supposition ... He has His plans for each of us, that's all !

    With utmost gratitude for the support you always share, Dearest Cheryl,
    I'm wishing you a lovely weekend while sending blessings of Joy across the many miles

    XOXO Dany

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    1. Thank you for your visit, Dany! God bless you, my friend. :)

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  2. I'm suffering from insomnia tonight and decided to visit your blog. I can relate to so much of what you wrote.

    I shared this on Facebook a few days ago and thought I'd share it with you... although you put what I was feeling in words so eloquently.

    There are some days when you know God is with you because His word says so but you really can’t feel His presence. Then there are days when you know He’s with you because you feel His presence and you see Him at work on your behalf… Whatever the day, the common theme is, God is with you!

    Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
    8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

    Ps I'm praying for your niece.

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    1. I loved the thoughts you shared, Bernadine! It was so nice to see you had visited. Thank you so much for your prayers. God bless you, my friend. ;)

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  3. I wondered the other day whether God is a woman ... because I keep getting the silent treatment!

    Seriously though, Cheryl. I have been praying for years and I am still waiting. Perhaps in His own way, God has answered my prayers and is answering them; but I don't realise it. You see, we often, without realising it, ask for the wrong thing. Like a child asking His parents for something they know is not right for him ... right now.

    When we feel abandonned by God, as Jesus certainly did on the Cross, it is because we momentarily focus on our situation, our condition, our problem, which seems to us important and vital at the time, rather than focussing on God and where and how we fit in with His plans; for us and for the life of others. He allows bad, (or not so good), things to happen to us, sometimes, for the benefit of others. Maybe our situation, bad as it may seem to us at the time, is somehow helping someone else. Perhaps our very problem, the way we deal with our situation, becomes an example for others to marvel at and emulate. What an honour and privilege it is that through our own suffering we may well have led someone else closer to God.

    I don't believe God ever abandons us. What benefit is that to Him? He is not in the business of losing souls. I believe that, like any good parent, He withdraws a little to allow us the freedom to learn and to grow. Like a parent who lets go of the bicycle and allows the child to cycle alone; even if he falls in the process.

    When we feel abandonned, as I often do, and we continue to pray; this is good for our development. The very fact that we pray, even in tears and in despair, it shows that we still believe, even if it is a tiny glimmer of belief, that there is Someone out there who can help us. This very act, of trusting in our darkest hour, strengthens our Faith, rather than extinguishing it.

    I continue to pray for you and your family, Cheryl, and for Kristen and her family.

    God bless.

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    1. Wonderful advice, my friend. Thank you so much for sharing what God placed upon your heart. It was a blessing to me! God bless you, in return. :)

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  4. A lovely post, so helpful. Thank you Cheryl.

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    1. Thank you, dear Elizabeth. God bless you for reading and visiting today!

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  5. I appreciate your honesty, Cheryl. The lost world runs on nothing but pure "feelings" which is why they think another person or their religion of humanism can save them. It's like pouring hot sand down your throat when you're dying of thirst.

    Praying for Kristen and her baby, along with you and yours. It ain't the Garden of Eden, is it, sister...

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    1. I appreciate your support and prayers, brother. Thank you so much for always being such a blessing.

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  6. I can hear your pain from those walks in difficulty. I do understand feeling alone.. and asking God "Why have You forsaken me?" I have been there and was very strongly rebuked by other Christians for daring to say that. I "felt" forsaken although I KNEW I wasn't. Those feelings can be so fickle... yet, they are real. I wonder... was God upset that I asked Him if He had forsaken me? I doubt if He was as upset as these other Christians were. It seems like we can take those hard emotions and questions to God... and we grow in our walk with Him... yet, it is so easy to stuff them down, put on a smile and say "I'm fine" and continue to drown in a sea of hurt and bewilderment while trying to look good. I doubt that He would be upset at our REAL feelings being worked out and us coming to Him in tears of confusion, then sinking at His feet in submission to Him. It seems worse, somehow, to lie and deny those feelings and pretend all is well... while we drift further from Him in an attempt to do what is expected by others and make ourselves look good to others. Pride comes in many forms and that is one of them... and it is very tempting at such times. The whited sepulcre comes to mind. No, I am not saying that our doubts should necessarily be voiced to others, but there are times that a word of encouragement and sympathy can make much difference in working such feelings out. In such times, I do not rail against God... or denounce Him, even in private... but I do sometimes go to Him in confusion wondering how long He will leave me to endure such trials... and I submit. He is God.. I am not. Thank you for your transparent post... I am praying for you, my friend.

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    1. Oh, your prayers mean so much! I am surely praying for you and your burdens, too. I SO enjoyed the thoughts you shared here and thank you from the bottom of my heart. God bless you, my friend. :)

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  7. Oh yes Cheryl I've asked God many times how long oh Lord? I love what you said that you maintain your position of serving God not because of how you feel but because of the facts that you know. While our feelings have value they definitely don't trump God's truth.

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    1. Thank you for hearing my heart, sweet sister. You are a blessing to me!

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  8. Such a wonderful /heartfelt post. Thank you Cheryl. I think all of us, at one time or another, experience these hard times.. Of not being as close to God or not feeling Him, as we should. We
    have to hold on , as hard as we can. He loves us, and when we go to Him, with these hard times.. He understands and loves us.. So amazing...

    Praying for Kristen, baby and family.. I just can't imagine how difficult this is for all of them.. And the fear too. Praying God will give them comfort. hugs..

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    1. Thank you, dear friend, for your kind, understanding heart and encouraging words. And, you will never know how much we appreciate your prayers for dear Kristen! May the dear Lord bless you richly. :)

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  9. Dear Cheryl, (I hope I'm not posting a double comment here, but I think I erased my first reply and will try again:) Thank you so much for these beautiful words! I needed this encouragement so much: " No longer were they bound; they were loose! The purpose the fire had served was to burn off their binding ropes." I am so thankful that our Lord always has more to show us in His Word when we continue to listen; I had never noticed the ropes being loosed for those 3 Hebrew children while they were in the fire. This brought tears to my eyes, as I am trusting the Lord for a loosing myself as I walk through my own trial now. I am so glad you shared your heart from the Lord here. And I will continue to pray for your niece to find healing and encouragement also. Blessings and Hugs to you, Sweet Friend!

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    1. Hello, dear Bettie! You are fine...it didn't post twice. I am just so thankful for your words and kindness and the love you always show. You are such a blessing to me! I do trust Jesus to walk with you always through your trial and that you will soon see the victory, my friend. Thank you so much for your precious prayers and faithful support. Sending you much love. :)

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  10. Dearest Cheryl...I saw your post on my reading list and knew I had to come over. Your words were just what I needed to read this beautiful Sunday morning... My dear family are walking through some difficult trials at present and many days I just don't feel like I have the strength to continue - somehow, the Lord doesn't seem very 'near' and yet I KNOW He is in my heart! I become down and disheartened in my faith because I shouldn't be feeling that! Ah...you spoke straight to me my heart! How can I put my trust my feelings? The are too fickle... I need to trust the One who walks with me day and night...the One who NEVER sleeps nor slumbers, for He is my rock and my salvation! I want to thank you for the encouragement you shared, it truly blessed me... I can now continue on my journey (I am always reminded of the pilgrims in Pilgrims Progress when I think of continuing along the road to Glory!) with renewed strength! May you be blessed today and may the Lord fill you with joy! I hold you in my prayers as well as dear Kristen! Oh, Lord...please watch over her and give her peace and comfort! Thank you for sharing this update with us... Sending much love to you, Cheryl!
    Kelly-Anne

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    1. Dear, sweet Kellie-Anne, How precious your words were to my heart! I have been so concerned and praying for you and your dear family. I know God is with you and will see you through, even though it doesn't "feel" like that sometimes. You will never know how much we appreciate you. Your kindness and support and friendship are invaluable gifts. May the dear Lord bless you and bring you through. Sending you much love across the many miles!

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  11. Cheryl, my heart was blessed just in "over hearing" that conversation between you and Zach. Thanks so much for sharing it and then for opening up your heart here. The Christian life is definitely not a wide path or a predictable road.

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    1. Thank you, sweet Michele! Your visits and support are such a blessing and encouragement. God bless you, my friend. :)

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  12. Hi Cheryl! I can relate to your feeling that God seems remote at times. I know that he is always near, but how we need to feel his presence! It can be so hard when I don't 'feel' him. But as you said so clearly, feelings and reality are two different things. I may not sense his presence, but he is always with me. Let it be a sacrifice for me not to sense him, and be a proof of my faith. Soon enough I will know he is with me in my faith and in my body.
    Oh..poor Kristen. Still in my prayers, and she will always be. May God bless her doctors and her little child inside her. He is always with her, and knows her pain. What a joy it must be to have you in her corner. She is blessed indeed.
    Ceil

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    1. You are SO right, dear friend. I so appreciate you and the many times you lift me up and give me an encouraging word...it keeps me pressing on. Thank you so much for your prayers for Kristen...you just have no idea how much this means to us. God bless you for the huge blessing you are to us all!

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  13. Thank you for this post, Cheryl. It really speaks to me now that I have my sister on my mind so much. She is dying of cancer, still at home and it is so hard on her husband who has to work to pay the bills. I know God has a purpose until we take our last breath, but the photos sent to me this week break my heart of her physical state. I pray a lot but my feelings rise up. So true what you wrote about faith and how it is the necessary ingredient to survive the dark times. I'm embracing the the Job verse today and very grateful for the inspiration here.

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    1. Oh, dear Mary!! I had no idea your dear sister is dying of cancer. Bless your dear heart. I am praying for you and trusting God to comfort you and bring you through this pain and sadness. Sending you loads of love and many hugs! I am here for you, my friend. :)

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  14. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts here, Cheryl. It is so easy sometimes to depend on our feelings and forget how unreliable they are compared with God's truth. I have had difficult times when I have felt God's presence closely and other times when he has felt absent, but it's encouraging to remember that he is always with us, no matter what our feelings tell us.
    I'm reminded of the poem about the footprints- someone looks back over their life and sees 2 sets of footprints as they and God have walked together but at the most difficult times there is only one set of footprints. They ask God why he left them at those times and God's reply is "That's when I carried you." I love the Casting Crowns song too.
    Continuing to pray for Kristen, for God's peace and healing.

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    1. You are so right, Lesley. I love that footprints poem, too...I was thinking of it a lot as I composed this post. He is always there, and that is such a comfort to me, even when I don't "feel" Him. I love Him so much, and I thank Him for friends like you who are so faithful to support on this Christian journey. Thank you SO much for praying for Kristen!

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  15. Such a lovely post Cheryl and one I can certainly relate to. As always, I am praying for Kristen and your family.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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    1. Betsy, I am SO grateful to you for your diligent prayers! I think of you so often and it comforts me greatly to know how often you are praying for dear Kristen. I am just so thankful for you and the blessing you are to us all. May the dear Lord reward you. I do hope you are getting relief from your pain. I am praying for you, too, sweet friend, and sending you love and hugs!

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  16. "Have you ever cried out to Him from the pits of despair, only to feel that your prayers didn't go past the ceiling?" Yes, yes, yes! After my late husband went home to the Lord this is exactly what I experienced and how I described it -- that my prayers didn't go past the ceiling. I remember so clearly being on my knees in our bedroom crying out to God and feeling He was nowhere to be found. But that is when I also cried out to Him, "Lord, even though I don't feel You at all, and even if I never feel you near me again, I will still trust You. I will still believe that You are there. I won't rely on my feelings, but instead will stand on Your word." And that's what I did. In time the feelings of abandonment diminished and I did sense His presence, but it wasn't until I had firmly decided in my heart and mind that no matter what happened I would not turn my back on Him. That was a time of great testing and out of it came great trusting. I find comfort in knowing that David -- a man after God's own heart -- struggled with these same feelings. He wrote of them frequently in Psalms. This was a very good post, Cheryl. Very good. xo Nancy

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    1. Oh, dear Nancy! I am SO sorry for your terrible loss...I can surely understand all you shared here. It is so inspiring how you determined to follow the dear Lord even if you never felt Him again. I was so blessed by your words about David in the Psalms. You are SO right. I think he felt God-forsaken many, many times, and I am SO thankful we have his prayers and words recorded and available to us to read. We know that we are not the only ones who have experienced such feelings of abandonment. Thank you SO much for your dear encouragement. Sending you much love, gratitude, and many hugs!

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  17. Dearest Cheryl,

    As I read your post tonight, I was reminded of King David who many times wrote of the difficult moments that he had as he poured out his heart to the Lord. I think of this passage in particular:

    Psalms 69 1 Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. 2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. 3 I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.

    And David writes deep heartbroken words to the Lord because of the difficulty of his circumstance, noting that he is "waiting for the Lord" crying, weeping, and weary. No doubt he was experiencing much of what you (and all of us) have felt at different times in our walk with the Lord. Yet, there is something notable ... at the end of this psalm, David somehow finds the place in his heart to end the psalm with praise to the Lord:

    Psalms 69: 29 But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.
    30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

    We can cry out to the Lord and talk to Him, tell him how we feel... He wants us to! And then, even as King David began to do, we then can to praise Him even if we don't understand or have any answers yet, or even FEEL it. There is something about praising the Lord in the dark hour that lifts our eyes up above where we are at, I think.

    Oh yes, dear friend, this is just what you are speaking of... walking on in faith, believing and trusting, and never depending on your feelings, but on our knowledge of who our Lord is. Those moments are oh, so hard on us, but like you said, when you stand on the mountain and look back at the mountain you walked through, you see and know just what the Lord has done.

    I pray that the presence of the Lord will surround you, bless you, and encourage you in a special way, and you will continue to be assured that the 'fourth man in the fire' is walking with you! We are continuing to pray for dear Kristen and the little one! I'm sure this fiery furnace she is in must feel so lonely and desperate. I pray the "fourth man in the fire" will make Himself known to her in the midst of the pain! Hugs to you today :)

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    1. Dear friend, it is so amazing that dear Nancy mentioned David above your comment, too! Neither of you had any way of seeing the other's comment, but the Lord laid that on both of your hearts! I have thought many times of David and his heart-wrenched words in the Psalms. It has been one of my favorite books of the Bible for many years. I love how it shows David's vulnerability and humanity and failures. It gives me so much hope! I am SO grateful to you for the amazing encouragement you have shared here and for your ongoing prayers for dear Kristen. She needs them so desperately, as today has not been the best day for her. God is with us all, and that is such a comfort, even when we don't "feel" that as much as we would like to. God bless you for being so kind. Sending you much love and many hugs!

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    1. Thank you, Arnica. God bless you, my friend!

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  19. It's when there is no feeling Him that it is a walk of faith. It is this kind of walk that will build our faith in Him and not ourselves or others. There was one lady in our church I always wanted to pray for me because I felt like she had a deep walk with God. What a disappointment to my heart when I found out she was messing around with another man. God used that to teach me, He will never mess around with anyone but me. How He loves me is evident when I don't "feel" a touch and obey His will anyway. Praying for Kristen..

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    1. Oh, my, that is just awful. We simply cannot afford to place our confidence in people, can we? Thank you for your prayers for Kristen. They are much appreciated, my friend. :) God bless you.

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  20. Hmmmm.... sister... Hard times always feel like God is any where but near to us. I can so relate with this... but like you have said, truth supercedes our feelings and God's Word and promise is truer than whatever we feel. Thanks for this honest post Cheryl. He is always with us and will be forever!
    As for Kristen, God has her best interest at heart and we can only wait in trust that He will perfect all that concerns her.

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    1. I love the way you put that..."truth supercedes our feelings". SO true! Thank you for your sweet visit, my sweet sister. I love and appreciate you. :)

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  21. For years I begged God to release my son from the stronghold of his addiction. Year after year and also after nearly losing his life on a couple of different occasions, still, he had not hit his rock bottom. I knew God was there but I just couldn't wrap my mind around why He was letting this continue for so long. What I'm about to say may shock you but at his worst stage of his disease, it got so bad that I had to release his very life's breath to God and completely release his safety to Him, even if it meant he was no longer with us here on earth...the struggle was just that bad. He was begging for help but couldn't make it happen. Compare him to some sick animal that you just need to put down because they were what seemed to be beyond healing. In the back of my mind, I knew God was there and I knew that He must have some kind of plan that I just wasn't seeing. If He couldn't change the circumstances then I just wanted peace. I can't think of just one incident, but there were many when the drama alone just about overwhelmed me. One morning I remember waking up to what seemed like a dream...I did feel peace and after a few moments, realized that no, things were still the same, only I felt HIS peace. It took me years of giving Aaron to God and taking him back to come to the realization that no matter what, he belonged to God and not me. A few more years of the addicted life passed but something was a bit different...I was more peaceful. In God's perfect timing, Aaron found himself in another situation with no way out but going into a Christian recovery program and has been sober since November of 2015...PRAISE GOD! I do not take this for granted in any way because he is still just one bad decision away from messing that all up. He post his devotional every morning on facebook as a way of being accountable to himself and it helps him knowing others see it and minister to them as well! Life is HARD even more so for we who are Christians because we know the power of God... and when we don't feel it, it is easy to get discouraged. Well, that was longer than I intended! Still praying for Kristen...thank you for the update. Hugs, sweet friend! ♥

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    1. Dear, precious friend! Oh, the pain and burdens that have filled your dear, mother heart! I cannot imagine how hard this has been for you, and I just praise God SO much for delivering your dear son and giving him a brand, new life. It is so admirable that he goes on there each day as a means of accountability. Surely God has great plans for his life! I do trust Jesus to keep him very near to His side and to never allow him to fall backwards again. You are a precious, precious encouragement to me and to so many others. Your son doesn't know it, but his testimony is blessing people he will never meet or even know about, and a lot of that is coming through you and your sharing from a mother's point of view. So heart-wrenching and so moving to us all. Sending you big hugs and lots of love, sweet friend. :) Thank you for sharing your heart here...it meant so much!

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  22. I have definitely experienced difficult times when I felt him right beside me and other times where I felt like I was in it alone. At the end of it though I was able to clearly see God's plan and be in awe of what he had in store for my life. He was in total control all along. You're right, we're to live by faith as feelings can often change.

    It sounds like so many people are praying for Kristen, she is definitely in God's hands.

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    1. Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your experiences...this was so encouraging. Yes, there are so many praying for dear Kristen...it humbles me and blesses me more than I can put into words. Like sweet Mary said in one of her comments, it feels like we are all laboring to birth this baby! I cannot wait to write the post telling you all that Kristen is fine and baby boy is fine and all is well. I know God is in control of all of this, and surely He is working on a major miracle! God bless you, sweet friend. :)

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  23. Cheryl, I truly believe that God had you write this for me! I am going through such a "dry patch" in my faith right now. Just struggling so much. This helped me to know that I"m not along in those feelings and that it's not truth, just how I'm feeling. I thank you so much for sharing this, especially on my link up, as I'm sure there are others that feel the same way but don't know how to express it or what to do. God bless you for your beautiful writing and heart!

    Blessings - Julie

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    1. Oh, bless your heart, sweet friend! I surely know how it feels to struggle...may the dear Lord bless you and hold you close and let you FEEL His presence! Sending you much love and many hugs!!

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  24. "The purpose the fire had served was to burn off their binding ropes."
    WOW!
    And the fires in our lives are meant to do the same for us. I never saw the connection before! What a loving God we serve!
    We don't like the fires, and we especially don't like it when they last for more than a couple of days. But He walks there with us. I love it that you brought this up! Thanks!
    Love and hugs and continued prayers.

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    1. You are SO right! Sometimes it takes going through the fire for God to completely free us from the things that bind us in this life. Thank you so much for your precious encouragement, Ruth. It always means so much to me when you stop here. You are such a dear blessing to me! May God bless you abundantly in return, my friend. ;)

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  25. Cheryl, Thank you for your transparency in this. I love the reminder that when we get through the difficulty we can look back and see that He really was there in the midst of it. God is always working even when we don’t feel or see any evidence of it. This is something you remind us of here and it is so appreciated!

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    1. Yes, praise God, it is such a blessing to look back and see that He truly was there, all along, just as He promised to be! I so appreciate your dear encouragement, Leslie. Thank you so much, and may God bless you!!

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  26. ((Cheryl)) I'm sorry you're struggling right now. Prayers for you, sister. Love your reminder that we never walk out of a trial the same way we walk in. God's at work and we're changed. -- Continued prayers for Kristin and her little boy. ((hug)) Thank you for sharing your heart with #ChasingCommunity, Cheryl. ((hug))

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    1. Thank you for your precious prayers, Brenda! They are so appreciated, my friend! May God bless you in a big way!! :)

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  27. Cheryl, Just Be Held is one of my favorite songs. It has been on repeat in my house many times. I love your honesty and transparency here. It’s inspiring. And looking back and seeing that God was there all along. That’s golden. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself in this article.

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    1. Thank you so very much, Leslie, for your sweet visit and kind, encouraging words! May the dear Lord bless you always!! :)

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  28. Facts and feelings are worlds apart ... so true. Yet so often we pursue feelings over faith. I relate to many of your words and so love your transparency. I know those darkest moments have been the ones when I had to actively purse God and sift through the mud to look for Him, because I can't always feel Him there either. But, He is and we can, and that makes all the difference. Thank you for sharing your heart, Cheryl.

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    1. Thank you ever so much for your sweet words and understanding heart, my friend. God bless you and keep you!

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  29. Perhaps God has not moved at all, but it might be a good idea to visit a new church just to get a change of view. Go ahead and take an entire month and visit different churches, then back to your church and see if you find him closer than before. Select new music instead of the old quartets, (not that they are bad) but perhaps some new worship choruses might lift your spirits. Then search the Bible Book Store for a good book. Maybe something funny. Are you finding things to laugh at? Laughter is like a medicine. Love you - just suggestions that have helped me.

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    1. Oh, my, we surely do laugh a lot around our house! There is much joy and gladness and gratitude for all God has done and is doing. In spite of some very painful and hard-to-understand trials, He is faithful, and even though we do not see or feel Him sometimes, He always proves that He was there all along. God bless you, Hazel. Thank you for stopping by. I hope your husband is feeling better. I love and appreciate you, sweet friend. :)

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  30. I always come away refreshed and encouraged by your thoughts. I'm not sure exactly why I was led to your blog today, but I will keep your words in mind as my next trial comes up as it is sure to do. And seek to remember the one who walked in the fiery furnace will also walk with me.

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    1. Oh, my friend! Thank you for your kind words!! I SO appreciate what you said here. How true you are to say that trials are sure to come! They were appointed unto us, and it seems they come thick and fast. God bless you in whatever lies ahead, and you will just never know what your encouragement meant to me today. Sending you much love and gratitude!

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  31. Thanks for sharing this message Cheryl. There have been times I've wondered if God had forgotten me (Psalm 13:1), and if He really heard and would answer my prayers. It's reassuring to know that He is there for us, even when we do not realize it. He always answers our prayers, even if not in the ways we expect. God hears us, and He loves us so much.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your sweet thoughts, Bethany! God bless you, my friend. :)

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