If you’ve said yes to that overwhelming, “love of God poured into [your] heart” (Romans 5:5) and have been following Jesus as His disciple for some time, you’re probably finding that you’re not as tempted by certain serious sins as you might once have been. You’re not thinking of rejecting God, of leaving the whole “Christianity” thing behind, as if it’s just an optional add on to one’s life. These types of “wins” are great progress, great encouragements and consolations from the Holy Spirit in your life!
But, when we’re seeking to love God and do His will, certain new temptations arise. Things that seem smaller and less noticeable, yet can still bring darkness and desolation to our relationship with Jesus.
One of these is feeling that God simply doesn’t care. Doesn’t care about your problem. Doesn’t care about your needs. Just wants you to be His follower–and that’s it. Period. A relationship where you give, and God doesn’t give back.
Feeling like God doesn’t care isn’t a sin, per se–but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a way that the Evil One, literally “the Accuser” as translated in the Bible, accuses each of us, to try and persuade us that we’re following Jesus alone, we’re ministering in His name, without His care for us.
A dramatic example of this comes when the disciples are transporting Jesus by boat, across a sea at night (Mark 4:35-41). They’re diligently following Jesus. Yet, when a storm arises at night they see Jesus sleeping and cry out, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Shocking that in such a moment their words aren’t, “Stop the storm!” or “Wake up! Help!” And, it can be quite the same for us. We can feel that God doesn’t care. The sneaking feeling that God doesn’t care stops us from being truly honest and direct with God in prayer. It prevents us from saying what we really mean–in the case of the disciples, “we’re scare, please save us!”–and makes our relationship with God seem less like a real, personal relationship.
A more mundane example comes while Jesus is at the house of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus (Luke 10:38-42). Martha, feels overly burdened by her service. We know from Jesus’ later response that it’s not that her acts of service are bad or need to stop, but that feeling burdened is what’s truly weighing her down. Her first words to Jesus in this moment of desolation and hurt? “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?” Much like the disciples in the boat, her very first words question does God care? It’s only after that that she asks Jesus to solve the problem, “Tell her [Mary] to help me.” However, even this petition doesn’t necessarily address the issue, as Martha might still feel burdened, even if Mary were helping.
From both these examples, we see that as followers of Jesus we’re likely to hit moments in our life where we feel like God just doesn’t care. The Holy Spirit seems distant. Jesus seems impersonal. The “Accuser” tells us that God wouldn’t care about problems as “human” as ours. When these moments hit, have the courage to be bold, to be honest with the Lord. “Lord, I feel like you don’t care. Please help me know that you do.” God will never be taken aback or stunned by our honesty. God loves us in the same way a parent profoundly loves a child who is able to say what he or she is really thinking. If we’re in such a hurt, sad, scared, or burdened place that our entire prayer is followed by tears or silence–that’s okay. Tears, silence, and even language that seems beyond words are all genuine ways we share with God, and allow Him in, making ourselves open to experience His loving care, when we need it the most.
When we feel like God doesn’t care, we don’t need to beat our selves up, or think that we’re awful followers of Jesus, not even worthy of the name “disciple.” No. Not at all. We see that some of Jesus’ closest followers in the 1st century experienced just the same thing. Like them, when we turn to Jesus–he answers. He doesn’t condemn us. God comes and cares for us all the more, in ways we may not have even imagined. When it seems like God doesn’t care, tell Him.
a version of this post also appears at newevangelizers.com