We have all had them; periods in our lives when God seems so far away.
Our souls are hungry for Him yet we can’t seem to find Him.
We are discouraged.
It’s like walking through a spiritual desert.
I know how this feels. I’ve been there, and if you’re there today, be encouraged that every single Christian has been there.
But what do we do when God is silent in our lives, and we are in a spiritual desert?
In our passage today, 1 Samuel 28:6-19, we find an example, but sadly, it’s an example of what not to do when we are in a spiritual desert. King Saul is being threatened by a huge army of Philistines and is extremely scared. Because of his own sinful worry and distrust of God’s sovereignty, he decides to treat God like his own personal genie and ask Him how this battle against the Philistines will go.
These wrong motives in asking God, and Saul’s already broken relationship with God because of prior unrepentant sin (trying to kill David), ultimately led to silence from God.
This is the darkest place a person can be, but it was a consequence of Saul’s own sin.
Instead of realizing why God was silent and repenting of his sin, Saul makes things ten times worse and ends up going to a witch, who he asks to call up Samuel from the dead.
This is extremely dark stuff, but a reminder that there are very powerful, very real forces of evil out there opposing God. (1 Peter 5:8) Thankfully we know we are on the winning team!
God allows Samuel to appear to Saul, and as a consequence for all Saul’s sin, Samuel ends up telling Saul that there will be a huge defeat and Saul is going to die in the battle.
So what can we take away today from this story?
1. When you feel far from God, don’t turn to worldly things for satisfaction, comfort, or answers.
There’s an old song from the Christian artist Plumb that says this: “There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us, and the restless soul is searching. There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us, and it’s a void only He can fill.”
These words perfectly communicate the fact that the only thing that can satisfy our hungry, discouraged, empty souls when we feel far away from God is God Himself, not anything else in this world. Turn only to Him when you’re discouraged.
2. When you’re in a spiritual desert, look for unrepentant sin.
Often times, but not always, the reason you feel far from God is your own sin. This is clearly illustrated in the life of Saul, who continued in unrepentant sin and because of this was not answered by God.
When there is sin in our lives, it draws us away from God and makes having an honest relationship with Him difficult.
This is just like if you were to break something that belonged to your mom, and decided not to tell her about it and just hide it. It would be pretty hard to act normal and have a loving relationship with your mom with that bugging you in the back of your mind, wouldn’t it?
It’s the same way with God.
If you are feeling far from God and realize that you have been sinning without telling God and asking Him for forgiveness, repent and ask Him for forgiveness, then your close relationship with Him will be restored.
3. When God is silent, cry out to Him and trust in His promises.
Maybe there isn’t any major unrepentant sin in your life, but you still feel far from God.
This could be because of a difficulty in your life, or maybe you’re just discouraged and you’re not sure why.
When you are in this situation, that is the time to get on your knees and really cry out to God.
1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Psalm 102:19-20 says, “For He looked down from His holy height; From heaven the LORD gazed upon the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to set free those who were doomed to death.”
God guarantees us that He hears us and that He is there.
He cares and even when it feels like He isn’t there, He is.
This is when you must trust in that truth and find comfort in it.
Let’s talk in the comments below:
- When is a time when you have felt far from God?
- How did you get out of your spiritual desert?