For decades, I believed that God was near to the brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18), and I’d even experienced His nearness during some difficult times. However, when I lost babies due to miscarriage in 2015, 2016, and 2017, I walked through some seasons of apparent silence from God. (If you've walked a similar journey, I'm so sorry. You may find additional encouragement from this blog post where I gather stories from many other women who have trekked this journey.)
I began to wonder if The Lord cared for me, if the years I invested in following God mattered to Him. I didn’t understand why He’d allow me to experience distance from His presence when I was seeking Him. After all, James 4:8 says if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. I was seeking Him, daily reading The Bible, praying, serving Him through attending church, volunteering, and spending time in God’s Word with my family. I was doing many of the right things, and I felt that my heart was pure before God, trying to lean on Him through my loss.
Yet, I still felt silence and distance from God. I experienced *spiritual dissonance, “having two or more conflicting thoughts, feelings, or ideas about God.” I believed His Word but faced a seemingly different reality in my painful state.
I asked myself, “Does God change?”
I knew the answer was no; The Bible says God doesn’t change (Mal. 3:6; James 1:17).
So why did it feel like He changed during my season of loss?
Perhaps it was me who changed.
Grief clothes us in sadness, impeding connection. This not only happens in our relationship with God but also with others.
When we’re unable to show up in our best state, we may be less likely to lean in, listen, and invest in others. Usually, I thrive by helping people reach their potential; after each loss, maybe I felt ashamed of being needy and that created a barrier between me and others, including God.
I began to feel a bit hurt that my support system didn’t appear to care for me like I cared for people. This feeling toward my friends and family was pretty similar to my feelings toward God.
Maybe you’ve done this, too. Consider any themes you’ve noticed regarding your relationships with people. Do you ever hope someone will invest in you, desire for them to leave you alone, or wish they’d tell you what they need?
If one of these ideas resonate with you, think about that desire. Now, consider if you’ve ever felt similarly about God.
In tough times, I’m more likely to question if I matter, wishing others would invest in me. I acknowledge that I usually don’t share that I’m having a tough time, so it may be wishful thinking to hope someone will read my mind and ask the right question. I believe I do this with God also. In tough times, I’m likely to wonder if He still cares for me. I don’t expect Him to prevent all bad things from happening, but I want to know He's near. I tend to find it easier to ask God to be near than I do with my friends and family.
I see a similarity between my distant feelings regarding my loved ones and God.
Let’s go to God’s Word to fight our feelings with faith.
In my season of loss, I studied stories in The Bible and noticed that Job, David, and many others experienced silence or distance from God. Even Jesus experienced a moment of separation from God and cried out in Matthew 27:46 (NLT), “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?”
If we believe that God still loved Jesus in that moment, we should probably be able to shift our thinking and make room for the belief that God still cares for us during difficult times.
And there are encounters in Scripture where God heard but didn’t respond immediately. Sometimes we wrongly assume that God’s silence or lack of instant intervention means He doesn’t care.
Recently, I noticed that Thomas told the disciples that he wouldn’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead until he felt His scars. Did you know it was eight days before Jesus “suddenly” appeared? When he showed up, He invited Thomas to connect, saying in John 20:27 (NLT), “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
If Jesus remembered Thomas’ faithless words and cared to restore his faith, it is safe to believe that He cares for us, too.
Though we may never completely understand why God seems distant or appears to change, we can fight for our faith, standing on God’s Word. He doesn’t change (James 1:17), and He’s near to the brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18). God’s way is perfect (Ps. 18:30), and His ways are higher than ours (Is. 55:8), so when we don’t understand, let’s keep running to Him. He will speak to us through His Word and through the Holy Spirit.
Thank You for your consistency. You are faithful when loss rips away my footing and exposes my unsteady, shaky faith. I will continue to put my strength in You. Where else do I have to turn? (Jn. 6:68)
Ashley Elliott, co-author of I Used to Be _____, devised and published a theory to help individuals gain insight to their personal thinking patterns that prevent them from reaching success in relationships at work and home. She is also a licensed counselor and coach who specializes in grief and communication. Compiling her counseling skills with over a decade of higher education teaching and leadership experience provides an engaging, interactive experience where learning feels fun!
This article was originally published by KHBC's Upliftd Minds.