More times than I can recall, people have said to me, “I prayed but God didn’t answer,” or, “I don’t understand why God seems so far away,” or, “I asked God for wisdom and peace, but I’m miserable.” God did not create you to go through life alone, and His desire is not for your hopelessness and misery. If you feel far from God, there has to be a reason.
STOP TRYING TO RUB THE BOTTLE
I once said to someone who was frustrated that God would not answer her prayers, “You just admitted that you are not following God or obeying His Word, but you expect Him to give you what you want. God’s not a genie.”
She replied, “Really? I thought He was like a genie.”
So often, we want from God while refusing to turn away from our sins and refusing to turn to Him. God is not a genie, though. Treating Him like one not only fails to bring forth helpful results but also sets the stage for deserved judgment.
START TRUSTING AND READING THE BIBLE
Stop trying to rub the bottle, and instead, start trusting and reading the Bible. Find hope in the Lord and experience His presence by knowing and obeying His Word.
“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil” (1 Peter 3:12). Thus, in order to be close to God and experience His unquestionable presence in your life, you have to be counted as “righteous.” Since none of us is righteous, though, that requires that we trust in and follow the Only One who is. Our sin makes us evil, but God declares us righteous when we surrender our all to Him.
For that reason, if anyone ever tells me about their frustration of feeling far from God, I ask them to consider if they are holding on to sin in their life. Are you walking with God and obeying His Word, or are you trying to do things your way?
“The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29).
When you surrender your life to Jesus Christ by repenting of your sins and trusting Him alone to save you, He begins a work in your heart that never ends. Best of all, He takes away your sins and makes you righteous in God’s eyes. You go from wicked to righteous by the blood of Jesus. No, we are still not perfect, but it is as if we were – in the eyes of God – because of the perfect sacrifice of His Son in our place.
On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Zechariah 7–8 on the beauty of being “Renewed and Transformed.” When Jesus saves us from our sins, He transforms our hearts and lives. That ongoing transformation is evidence that we have been made right with God.
Like Israel in Zechariah’s time, though, you might be tempted to think that going through the religious motions will suffice. Perhaps God will be pleased with your occasional church attendance and empty prayers and non-sacrificial offerings. Then, when you want or need something from Him, you can rub the proverbial bottle and get from Him what you need.
God is not a genie, though. He is worthy of so much more than your occasional efforts and comfort-level praises. He deserves far more than your half-hearted “commitments” and selective “obedience.”
“Just as I called, and they would not listen, so when they called, I would not listen,” says the Lord of Hosts.(Zechariah 7:13).
Are you calling, but He is not listening? Listen to His Word. Trust in His salvation. Experience transformation.