When God doesn’t show up

Today in church a newborn baby was blessed.

In my church, how a baby blessing works is the father will hold the baby in the center of a circle of family and friends and a prayer is said for the start of the little one’s life. Today something that was said in the blessing caught my attention.

“I bless you to always feel Heavenly Father near and His love for you,” the sweet dad said.

Wouldn’t that be nice?! My inner thoughts said back. And maybe there are some of you who legitimately have the gift of always feeling Him near and knowing without a doubt that His love for you is bigger than life. *If so, I totally want your life.*

But I wasn’t born with that gift.

Instead I was born with a skeptical little heart that I have to hold at bay now and then, and a talent for working really hard at things and not giving up, even when my insides aren’t really feeling it. I’ve always been embarrassed about that.

Why does it feel like sometimes I just got the short end of the stick? Why do some of my trials feel like a really personal blow? Why, when I’ve spent years praying for something, it feels like a brick wall is listening instead of a loving Father in Heaven?

Why does it feel like sometimes God chooses to just not show up?

alone on dock

As painful as it is to talk about, as embarrassing as it is to talk about weaknesses, I know I’m not the only one. Don’t worry, you don’t have to admit to it. I’ll take the fall and maybe you’ll relate along the way.

I was so blessed to be able to attend Time Out For Women this weekend, two nights filled with messages, music, and heart-to-heart honesty about trials, overcoming, and patience in the storms of life. All of the messages touched me deeply, but it wasn’t until Michael McLean, a wonderful singer and song writer, took to the stage that I suddenly felt like the Savior himself took my hand and wanted to deliver this very personal message straight to me.

TOFW.jpg

I won’t cover his whole message because it was long and you would fall asleep halfway through the blog because I wouldn’t be able to tell it as beautifully as he could. But long story short, Michael had a decade-long faith crisis. During this crisis of faith, he didn’t let anyone know what was going on internally or the doubts that singed his heart. He continued to go to church, he continued to write music, he kept going to the temple with his wife and joining in on family prayers. But he felt, all along, like he was in the darkness. And then one night he had a dream, in song of course, and he woke up and wrote the music that he heard in the dream.

“I choose to pray to one who doesn’t hear me. 

I choose to wait for love that He conceals.

And though God’s chosen now not to be near me, 

I’m keeping promises my heart no longer feels.”

I wouldn’t consider myself to be in a faith crisis that lasts years upon years like Michael and some others have experienced–but I have had pockets of moments, sometimes pockets of days or weeks, where these lyrics are what my heart would say while in the midst of the dark.

I felt that moment three years ago when my husband told me over the phone that Dad was just given nine more months to live. I still remember sitting against a vending machine, unable to stand, praying in a room that wouldn’t even echo. I felt nothing come back to me.

hug on bed

I felt that moment when the doctor said the word “infertility” and my prayer to be a mom fell on seemingly deaf ears.

I felt that moment when the only members left on my side of the family left the church and my prayers for them to stay seemed completely meaningless.

I have stood, alone and utterly broken, wondering why God decided not to show up when I needed him the most.

I have lived these moments.

And yet–so has He.

savior in garden

And although I’ve always known it, it wasn’t until I was reminded the other night that I put the pieces all together. Jesus–the Savior of the world, the perfect man, the CREATOR of the galaxies–was literally left alone. In his greatest hour of need Heavenly Father stepped away from Him and took away his presence completely.

Why did he do that to his only son? His perfect son??

Yes, it’s because he loves us so much. We’ve all heard that answer and we’ve studied it in Sunday School manuals.

But another answer is one we don’t think of that often. Heavenly Father had faith in Jesus.

He had complete faith that in the moment when Christ felt most alone, in that moment when there was darkness and emptiness and no voice whispering back, in that moment when the Spirit had left and the pain was immense and the blood stung his eyes–he decided to pray anyway.

jesus praying

He decided to do the Father’s will anyway. He decided to keep His promise ANYWAY.

So what more can I do? What more can you do?

Because of the Savior we will never be truly alone.

We might feel it–we might get a taste of what the Savior felt in Gethsemane as he cried to the Heavens and was later pinned to a cross on a lonely hill. But in those hours of feeling it, we need to do what Christ did when he was actually, truly alone and didn’t have God near by.

We need to pray anyway, even when we don’t get an answer back. We need to keep our promises, even when we don’t feel like it anymore. We need to love Him, even when we don’t feel very loved in return. Because in those moments, those little moments where our eyes put a roof on our perspective and we can only see a few feet ahead–

In those moments He’s counting on us to choose Him anyway.

pryaing

Life is so hard. There’s a million things we want and a hundred things we need and it’s so easy to see his hand in other’s lives and a little harder to see him working in ours. It’s so hard sometimes to watch our kids leave the church and to take the sacrament at church while feeling like it wouldn’t make a difference anyway with how terrible it has all been. It’s so hard to feel like you don’t have any friends you can talk to and to get on your knees to pray, only to cry instead, feeling like there isn’t anyone on the other end of the receiver. It’s so hard to deal with an empty home or a too-full home where you have no time to breathe. It’s so hard to deal with a spouse who has fallen away, an addiction that seems unbearable to handle, or a calling in life that makes you the one people go to for spiritual strength and there’s no time in the world to fall apart.

Life is so hard. I know.

But we have to keep going.

He has faith we’ll love him, even in those empty patches. Even in those moments where we’re almost completely convinced that He isn’t there.

If you’re in a crisis of faith right now, don’t try to convince yourself of anything. Just choose to keep going forward. Your faith won’t always be perfect–mine sure isn’t.

But He has perfect faith in us.

And for now, here in the dark, that’s enough light to hold on to.

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” -John 8:12, KJV

candle

169 thoughts on “When God doesn’t show up

  1. From Elder Holland – “The work of devils and of darkness is never more certain to be defeated than when men and women, not finding it easy or pleasant but still determined to do the Father’s will, look out upon their lives from which it may seem every trace of God has vanished, and asking why they have been so forsaken, still bow their heads and obey. [Paraphrased from C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters]”
    Your continued hope and obedience will eventually defeat the powers of darkness that can seem so overwhelming. I’ve seen it happen. Hang in there.

  2. I really needed this reminder. Thank you for putting it so beautifully and simple. Thank you for sharing what many of us feel, but are too afraid to admit.

  3. He truly loves us so much waiting for us to come home with his arms wide open saying you’ve done well little one welcome home

  4. Perfect article. Thank you.
    I too have had a faith crisis. Mother Theresa said she felt darkness all around her for years. During one of my faith crisis’ when I was pouring out my soul in prayer, I had a thought, ” If Satan wants you this bad, you must be doing something right.”
    I stopped thinking something was wrong with me and realized that I must have been someone powerful before this life, someone Satan desired to destroy. That changed everything. I’m not weak or faithless, I’m his adversary and if he’s seeking so hard at times to destroy me, then that tells me there is a whole lot more to me and all of us then we realize. Hold on and fight, because you are someone incredible, otherwise Satan would leave you alone because you aren’t a threat to him. So if he’s fighting like crazy to destroy you, you must be someone he fears.

  5. I am so sorry for your personal pain and suffering. I know that we all have our own trials in this life to get through and each of us have to somehow overcome them with the help of our Savior. I suffer from Bi-polar. I can understand what it feels like to seem as though we are all alone and that no one cares. Literally every moment of every day I have come to rely on the Atonement of my Savior Jesus Christ. I know that he walks with me daily through my times of joy and deepest sorrow. It is at my darkest moments when I want to end it all that I reflect upon my loving family, and Jesus Christ and that is what keeps me enduring to the end. Life is not easy, it is a journey that just somehow allow us to cherish the special moments when they do happen 💗

    1. Thank You. I’m bipolar also. I was diagnosed 28yrs ago, some days I live by only a sliver of faith in the atonement. I have been blessed even while in my darkest hour to know He still loves me, even though I feel alone in my suffering.

  6. That was beautifully shared. There is a song I love called “Never Alone” by Barlow Girl that has a similar message. “I cried out with no reply and I can’t feel you by my side but I’ll hold on to what I know, you’re here and I’m never alone.” I always love when our thoughts can turn to the Savior when we are going through trial and to be able to have the realization that he has gone through the same thing we are going through. At times, He may be the only person who can relate or empathize with us. I have found comfort in this as loved ones go through trials where I can do nothing to help except pray for them to feel the love and enabling power of the atonement.
    Thanks for this!

  7. Reminds me of this poem I love:

    Litscape.com≡

    Ella Wheeler Wilcox
    Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    Nov. 5, 1850 – Oct. 30, 1919

    TitlesFirst LinesLast Lines

    Gethsemane

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    In golden youth when seems the earth
    A Summer-land of singing mirth,
    When souls are glad and hearts are light,
    And not a shadow lurks in sight,
    We do not know it, but there lies
    Somewhere veiled under evening skies
    A garden which we all must see —
    The garden of Gethsemane.

    With joyous steps we go our ways,
    Love lends a halo to our days;
    Light sorrows sail like clouds afar,
    We laugh and say how strong we are.
    We hurry on; and hurrying, go
    Close to the border-land of woe,
    That waits for you, and waits for me —
    For ever waits Gethsemane.

    Down shadowy lanes, across strange streams,
    Bridged over by our broken dreams;
    Behind the misty caps of years,
    Beyond the great salt fount of tears,
    The garden lies. Strive as you may,
    You cannot miss it in your way.
    All paths that have been, or shall be,
    Pass somewhere through Gethsemane.

    All those who journey, soon or late,
    Must pass within the garden’s gate;
    Must kneel alone in darkness there,
    And battle with some fierce despair.
    God pity those who cannot say,
    Not mine but thine, who only pray,
    Let this cup pass, and cannot see
    The purpose in Gethsemane.

    Love this post! Candice

    1. Thank you for posting this poem….our family is going through a terrible tragedy and this is a piece that can help me remember there is a reason for our trials, if we will only choose to learn from them…that is why we are here.

  8. I don’t have any faith in a higher power, but your post still speaks to me. The message that I got from all of this is to just not give up. Like Winston Churchill once stated, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Thank you for such an honest and relatable post.

  9. Thank you for this beautiful article! I think sometimes we focus so much on Christ’s divinity that we forget that he was human, too. He is the example to us of how to be Human. Human doesn’t mean imperfect. (Well, sometimes it does, I guess. But, not always!) Great illustration of this!

  10. So beautifully said! Thank you. Last testimony meeting I had a similar experience. As people stood and were sharing at the microphone, over and over I thought, ” I can’t say I know that right now. But I could say that I have known. I have had the Spirit testify that to me. I may not feel it now. But I have felt that. ..” As I held on to my faith of the past, I felt a peace that I was being faithful and I will have that knowledge again. I have known I have a loving Heavenly Father. I have felt the peace of the Savior. I have had powerful promptings from the Holy Ghost. I believe someday, I will be able to say those things again in a present tense.

  11. My friend shared this with me. Your words are my words in my recently published book, “Heaven Sent and Bent”. I love that there is a new freedom to be honest and to admit that truth is better understood without flowery platitudes.

  12. Beautiful article, thank you for sharing. I have often wondered why Heavenly Father withdrew His presence when Jesus was on the cross and I believe it was for 2 reasons: Christ had to finish it on His own to become the Mediator, but before He would be crowned Redeemer He had to descend below ALL things … He had to experience total abandonment … the torment of a damned and lost soul. What a rare insighg you’very been given into the Son of Man. You are now part of the fellowship of the suffering of Chrust.

    Remember, He didn’t just descend TO you condition, He went BELOW it so He might be in all things the Light of Truth.

  13. So I was at the TOFW as well! I absolutely loved it and his talk touched my heart so deeply. I love what you wrote but I did want to comment on what I also received from it. I love how we all get such personal teachings! So He said once he finally felt Heavenly Father it was when he felt the songs come to him from angels (encountering Jesus) and he continued to say the songs were in perfect order of the questions he asked Heavenly Father (similar to the questions John the Baptist had for Jesus). So he continues by asking Heavenly Father how come it took so long? and the answer was that before in Michaels life he always had a specific way he received answers from Heavenly Father and he was so stuck on that way…sort of like when we say this is how Heavenly Father speaks to me. Well it limited Gods ability to speak to him. So Michael looked back at his life and there was so many other ways Heavenly Father tried to reach out to him and he didn’t notice. So what I learned was to have gratitude everyday and to look for different ways Father speaks to me. That way we don’t necessarily have to go through a faith crisis.

  14. This is a beautiful testimony and beautiful perspective that everyone needs to read and ponder. Thank you for sharing this!

  15. I feel much like you do.. While others seem to have amazing experiences, hear voices when they pray, I many times feel like im talking to the wall. I have however been richly blessed in the end. I feel that when the scriptures say “Wait on the Lord”.. It literally means, Wait on the lord.. Obey with no expectation of anything, just because we love the Gospel.. Many would accuse me of blind faith in the Easter bunny.. but I have seen first hand the eventual fruit of the Gospel. Thats enough for me.

  16. If God doesn’t show up, maybe it’s because he doesn’t exist. Why else would this question arise? When has God ever shown up for anything?

  17. Thank you for being vulnerable and posting this out there…for taking the hit. This is exactly how I feel sometimes and thank you for putting a voice to it!

  18. Thank you so much I needed to read this. I have been struggling with changes in my life and I don’t what to do. I feel like I’m loosing faith and I’m lost, what you said about Christ during the atonement brought a little bit of peace to me. Thanks!

  19. Just…thank you. After a brain tumor removed twice, breast cancer and chemo: I am worn down. I have prayed to what feels like empty air but even the ritual has soothed me. To quote mr. McLean in another song. “Just hold on, the light will come.” Sometimes he lifts us on wings of an eagle and sometimes wings of a dove.

  20. I believe that Father Elohim left him alone not only so He could complete the task as Father knew He could…even alone, but also so He would be able to understand us when we FEEL alone although we never truly are…the same as He suffered in Gethsemane for things he never did, again so He can truly say He has been there and understands everything we can possibly experience in this life…he descended below all things because of His love for all of us.

  21. Thank you. I needed to hear that. Going to Church is so hard for me right now but I go every week. But it’s hard finding motivation. Glad to know I’m not alone.

  22. Currently dealing with depression, and suicide. The hopelessness that has been never ending these past couple weeks seem to be pushing me over the edge. Your words are truly inspiring, I hope to keep them with me to remind me next time I’ve hit my wall.
    Thank you

  23. Me and my little heart are the same way! I recently had an experience very similar to your baby blessing story at the beginning, but it was at a bsptism. Thank you for writing this! I totally needed it tonight!

  24. thank you for this, it meant a lot to me and is the first thing to make me feel something in a while.

  25. I feel god left a long time ago. I struggle with depression and have done for years. Have prayed, fasted and done all the church says to and it is still with me and I am so tired of it. I cannot take meds and so I live with this hell. I want to die but the thought of living forever after this life makes me even more depressed. Why can’t death be the end?

  26. I can’t even pray anymore. God doesn’t listen. He’s more concerned with being silent and mysterious. He will let you wander and die in confusion and anger. You can pray for years and be wrong, and he doesn’t do anything to help you understand.

    1. He is listening and waiting for the right moment to touch your heart which is very hardened right now. Humble yourself and pray continuously. I promise he will hear you and bless you. You already have many blessings that you haven’t stopped to recognize. Bless you.

  27. You literally have no idea how much I needed to read this right now. I have been going through my own faith crisis, questioning why God doesn’t seem to be there. You just answered my question why. Thank you so much. 🙂

  28. ThanK you! You do have the voice and the words that I’m often to embarrassed to use. Thanks for taking one for the team. Michael McLean has a cd where he talks about those years, and that crisis and the inspiration for his songs. It is pure therapy! I remember one part where he says he had given up on God but God doesn’t give up on us. It sounds cliché sometimes but there are many other treasures like it. Please keep writing about this. It’s very comforting.

  29. I have this article bookmarked on my phone so I can come back and read it whenever I need this reminder. I think I needed it today. Your words are so perfectly put and I am so grateful for what you said. Thank you so very much for this. I love your blog. It’s amazing. Thank you for your inspiring messages.

  30. God speaks through the Holy Ghost and not through emotions, I had times in my life that I prayed intensely and got nothing but then I realized later that knowledge had indeed come into my mind but not feelings. In the church and in fact all religions tend to focus on feelings and feelings are related to the flesh which is a very easy thing for Satan to manipulate and deceive us.

  31. This is beautifully written and touched my heart! Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. My face is leaking! 😭😉

  32. The atonement is our rescue. Christ alone performed it and He has proclaimed that He alone has accomplished it:
    Isaiah 63:3: “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me[.]”

    In modern revelation, He has reiterated that He alone performed the atoning sacrifice required to save us from judgment and condemnation:
    D&C 133:50: “I have trodden the wine-press alone, and have brought judgment upon all people; and none were with me;”

    He saves us through the atonement because He paid the price of the wrath of Almighty God for all sin:
    D&C 76:107: “I have overcome and have trodden the wine-press alone, even the wine-press of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God.”

    Paul explained that through the original disobedience of Adam, a sentence of death was imposed on mankind, but that sentence was reversed and many will be made righteous by the sacrifice of Christ. (See Romans 5:12-19.)

    It is Christ alone who will keep the way. He will allow those who have believed in Him, obeyed Him, kept His commandments and thereby walked in the path of His righteousness (to become righteous) to enter:
    2 Nephi 9:41: “O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.”

    It is Christ and His name alone which will provide salvation for mankind:
    Mosiah 5:8 “And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.”
    John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

    There are many others in heaven. God the Father and Christ are not alone. There is an entire host of beings with them:
    Neimiah 9:6: “Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.”

    Some of the hosts are righteous, align with God, and follow His will:
    D&C 88:112: “And Michael, the seventh angel, even the archangel, shall gather together his armies, even the hosts of heaven.”

    Angelic hosts are on both sides, some on God’s right hand and others on His left:
    2 Chronicles 18:18: “Again he said, Therefore hear the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.”
    1 Kings 22:19: “And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.”

    But angelic hosts retain the right to choose. It is possible for them to rebel and fall short. It is possible for angelic hosts to be cast down from heaven:
    D&C 29:36: “And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;”

    Faithful members of the heavenly hosts can further God’s work, and cooperate with Him in assisting mankind:
    D&C 84:42: “And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.”

    We cannot be saved by an angel. Nor can we trust any angel, even from heaven, to be the object of worship or adoration. That must be reserved for Christ and His Father alone:
    Galatians 1:8: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

    Even if an angel were to give you a covenant, promise or assurance; or a man were to “seal you up to eternal life,” unless it comes by and through Christ alone, it will be of no value in the afterlife:
    D&C 132:12-13: “I am the Lord thy God; and I give unto you this commandment—that no man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word, which is my law, saith the Lord. And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God.”

    Those who worship angels, men, or institutions instead of Christ risk becoming subject to a fallen angel:
    2 Nephi 9:8: “O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.” (See also D&C 76:98-105.)

    One of the adversary’s pretensions is to claim that he is “the son of God” or the “Only Begotten,” thereby hoping to mislead people to worship him instead of the Lord. (See Moses 1:19; D&C 128:20.)

    Before accepting a message as truth, you ought to know the scriptures well enough to test the message against the words of Christ, His unwaivering voice from the time of Adam until the present, and the prophets. It should not be difficult to determine if some new thing is true or just vanity, without power, and offensive to God. You should be careful about allowing any angel or man to pretend to “seal you up” to some eternal reward. You may find yourself subject in the afterlife to a vile spirit who will claim the right to rule over you. There are pretenders, even among the hosts of heaven. Joseph Smith cautioned, “A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.” (DHC 4:588.)

    Believe in Christ, trust in Him, and seek salvation through Him alone.

  33. I have a friend who is convinced that some of us go through 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine. It was true for me and so very difficult to go year after year without blessings and without the comfort of the Holy Ghost then when things became the absolute worst the heavens finally opened and I started to receive revalation again. Thank you for your story. It helped me in ways you can’t understand. I wrote about my experience as well but I’ve been writing it more for family and friend. For some reason I feel compelled to share it with you. http://famineandthewindowsofheaven.blogspot.com/2015/02/modern-day-revelation-saved-my-life.html?m=1

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