God’s Presence…When You Can’t Feel It

That feeling is all too common to the believer. That feeling, where once a closeness with God was enjoyed, that God’s existence is questioned. If you have been a believer for any length of time, you know exactly what I am talking about right now. Perhaps you are even experiencing it at this moment.

If you are like me, you go through seasons where this is the case. Something that I have found encouraging is the fact that many individuals in the Scriptures also have the same experience. In Thomas A Kempis’s work, The Imitation of Christ, he speaks on emptiness. He describes it as “When you no longer feel the comfort of God’s presence…” [Thomas A. Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Notre Dame, Ave Maria: 1989), 74]

I love what he writes next. Though it is long, it is well worth your time to read it.

“This is nothing new or strange to those who know God’s ways, for the great saints and prophets of old often experienced such changes; whence, the Psalmist, feeling grace present in him, declared, ‘In my prosperity I said I shall never be moved.’ But when grace was withdrawn he added what he felt inside, saying: ‘You hid your face from me, and I became troubled.’ Yet, in the midst of this, he did not despair but prayed to the Lord all the more earnestly and said: ‘To you, O lord, I shall cry and shall beg forgiveness of my God.’ Finally, his prayer was answered, and he testified that he was heard by saying: ‘The Lord heard and has had mercy on me: the Lord became my helper.’ But how? ‘You have turned my sorrow into joy,’ he said, ‘and surrounded me with gladness.’ If it happened in this way with the great saints, we who are weak and poor should not despair if we are sometimes burning with desire and sometimes not. The Holy Spirit comes and goes according to his good pleasure; whence, blessed Job says: ‘You visit him at daybreak, and you suddenly test him.'” [Kempis, 74.]

Job says it this way,

 

But if I go to the east, he is not there;
    if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
    when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
 But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
Job 23.8-10 NIV

So take heart today, though you feel not His presence, He is there. His name, after all, is EmmanuelGod with us!

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‘If You Can Keep It’, A Review

Eric Metaxas’s addresses a vital need for the hour of this country. The views that one holds of one’s own country will affect how one lives. How one lives affects how a country functions. And how a country functions determines the lives of countless others.

There is no doubt that Metaxas loves the United States of America. Almost every story is told with attention to detail, but more than that, a love of the people who helped shaped this land for over two centuries. He writes with the tone of a mother who is grieving for a wayward son. He writes in the introduction, “We have a charge to keep. This book is about seeing that we understand this again—and that we keep that charge, that republic, that glorious promise.” [Eric Metaxas, If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty (New York, Penguin: 2016), 15]

His book reads as if he is sitting across from you, briefly taking sips of steaming coffee before continuing his discussion about the country he loves. He tells you of stories about many men and women who have stood firm in the face of unsurmountable difficulties, who forged ahead on uncertain and challenging roads, and who made incredibly tough decisions. From great men like Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr., Eric Metaxas draws on an even greater idea, that of self-government. In fact, more than the individuals he addresses, Metaxas’s focus is on the basis of the greatness of this country and the wild requirements to maintain such a place.

The book encourages the reeducation of Americans, whether they are Jewish or Muslim, whether agnostic of atheist. He draws on personal experience and history from America to help create a hunger for the rich diversity that is the United States.

One drawback is the lack of citations. There are only eight notes, and of those only four are citations. If one is familiar with the writings of Metaxas, particularly of his historical biographies, one may feel disappointed. However, it is more of a manifesto for a revival of love for America. So it suits his purpose to provide a more readable and less dense work.

Eric Metaxas is a Christian, so it should not come as a surprise that his work is filled with Scripture and references to accounts of the life of Jesus. For some this may be an issue, particularly to those who tend to hold negative views of religion. But it is written from a neighborly perspective, and not as one who is simply speaking to one to make a proselyte.

If you would like to know more about America, this is a great start. Addressing everything from our beauty to our warts, Metaxas presents a magnificent view of the United States. If you have lived in this country for long, then it is more than likely that you have ill-feelings toward this nation. Metaxas’s work is a wonderful reminder of the genesis of America, a birds-eye view of arguably the greatest nation in the history of civilization.

Purchase your copy now!