When God Seems Distant

Some days God feels more like a dusty, old book than a nearby Father. These moments happen to all of us, and our Christian faith can find itself under interrogation.  When I experience them, a blitzkrieg of questions follows:

  • Do I really believe a Middle Eastern man rose from the dead twenty centuries ago, and his Spirit lives inside me?
  • Do I really believe God loves me and wants the best for my life?
  • Do I really believe the Bible is true?

We cannot simply repress those questions – letting them creep about in our minds – waiting for doubt to strike before popping out again. What, then, should we do in moments when God seems a universe away? How can we avert these little existential, faith crises? There is a skill that, if mastered, will keep you from spiraling into despair:

Learn how to untangle your thoughts.

Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote to the church explaining how false and deceitful thinking is a spiritual issue. We often speak of “strongholds” in light of demonic influence (and rightly so – other Scriptures affirm as much), but look carefully at how he explains it:

2 Corinthians 10:4-5
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

God’s divine power gives us the ability to resist Satan as well as destroy arguments raised against the knowledge of God. These opinions attack from every angle:

  • God seems distant because He’s not real.
  • God seems distant because He doesn’t love you.
  • God seems distant because The Bible is fictitious and unreliable.

We must master the ability to untangle such thoughts; demolishing them rather than submitting to their weight (or ignoring them altogether). With practice and time, you will find it becomes easier. After years of trial and error, here are three statements I hang my hat on when days of doubt or distance come:


I have, to the best of my abilities, tried to find a consistent worldview that does not require God. Atheism (or philosophical naturalism) and Buddhism were the closest I discovered and they left me wanting when asked questions like,

“Do people live as if this were actually true?”

“Is epistemology, meaning, and conscious explained in a way that seems consistent with real life?”

Some aspects were more convincing than others but, when viewed holistically, each system fell apart over time. Monotheism (belief in an all-powerful, eternal God) was the most consistent in explaining the human experience; specifically, as it related to ontology (a branch of metaphysics that focuses on being).

For anything to exist, there has to be Something with the power of being. In other words, Something has to be able to exist without having been created. That Being must also be eternal, otherwise it would have to first create Itself before anything could exist (I’ll wait for your brain cramp to subside).

Simply put, there is a reason why His name in Hebrew is Yahweh – I Am.

R.C. Sproul’s arguments on this subject convinced me further of the philosophical necessity for God’s existence. Listen to it here. However, many Jews, Muslims and, to an extent, Hindus would agree with me on this point. It becomes necessary, then, to continue untangling.


Dozens of books helped solidify my confidence in the reliability of the Christian Scriptures. I’ve written about them here and here. Enough ink has been spilled by scholars in this area to spill more now. Instead, I will quote one of them:

If God exists and we are made in His image we can have real meaning, and we can have real knowledge through what He has communicated to us. If this is taken away, we are left only with man and his finite self-expression.

Francis Schaeffer
The God Who Is There


God makes thousands of promises throughout the Bible, and cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Here are a few of them:

Matthew 11:28-29
Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Romans 10:9
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Hebrews 13:5
I will never leave you nor forsake you.

What if God still feels distant though? Perhaps you agree with the statements above, but your spiritual life seems stuck. Although He has promised to never leave us, there are various causes that hinder our communion with God. The following ones tend to show up in our lives the most:

(or lack of true repentance)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Sin can hinder our ability to see God, but Christ paved the way for us to see again. “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

For more, see “When I Sin, Then What?”


One of the loudest reasons we stumble in our spiritual journey is not a lack of knowing God’s promises, but a lack of believing them.

For more, see “Who Do You Trust?”


We feel unlovable. Our sin is too great. Our pride is too real. Our lust is too strong. We don’t deserve grace. (Of course, grace isn’t grace if you deserve it.) Remember, the Biblical God is faithful even when you are not.

2 Corinthians 5:21
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Does God seem distant right now? Learn to untangle your thoughts while fighting for faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

He’s not as far as you think. 

Pay No Attention to the God Behind the Curtain

Remember the moment you found out the Wizard wasn’t all that great or powerful? The face of Oz ended up being a balding, fancy-mustached, lever pulling man behind a curtain. All it took was a yappy little dog to bring the whole thing down.

I used to believe that asking critical questions about Christianity would do that. It was as if my yappy little dog of doubt could somehow expose the Biblical God as a fraud and bring my world down with it.

During that time, I discovered Psalm 51:6.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Something became very clear after reading it. “If the Biblical God is true,” I reasoned, “and He desires truth in my inmost being, then doubt is nothing to fear. He’s still going to be true at the end of the day.” That idea gave me permission to face doubt head on.

One, in particular, had to do with the authenticity of Scripture. Questions like, “Did Jesus really say and do those things? How did we even get the Bible we have today?” would swirl around in my head all day. So, instead of denying the questions as they gnawed away, I sought answers to them. And my faith became stronger than ever before.

Do you have an area in your life where doubt often creeps in? Race towards it. Don’t be afraid. Take a step this week and read a helpful resource about it.

He desires truth in your inmost being. Go ahead and look. You won’t expose a fraud behind the curtain.

Helpful Resources

These were invaluable for my questions about Scripture:

Why Trust the Bible? by Greg Gilbert (148 pages)

Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy by C.E. Hill (320 pages)

The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Craig Blomberg (416 pages)

The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation for the Evidence of Jesus by Lee Strobel (320 pages)

I also wrote a short paper summarizing the arguments found in these books and others like them. YOU CAN DOWNLOAD IT HERE.

Beware the Baby Bird Effect

Babies are trusting little creatures – none more so than the bird. Have you ever watched how they eat? Sometimes they don’t even open their eyes. The sound of fluttering wings makes their creepy little heads pop up and await the pre-chewed worm guts. At least, that’s what they assume. In any case, no questions are asked.  

When I was young in my faith, I was a baby bird.  All it took was a phrase like, “The Bible is…” and my neck craned up to eat whatever was given. Fortunately, many of those phrases ended with, “God’s Word, trustworthy, sufficient, reliable, etc.” Either way, I wasn’t all that worried about my worm guts. Just eat them and move on was my method. 

Then I went to college.

Suddenly, “The Bible is…” was followed by, “mythology, inconsistent, debilitating.” Wait, what?! Teachers could always be trusted. But what they were saying was diametrically opposed to what I was taught growing up.

I just gobbled up whatever I was given. Good or bad.  It was the Baby Bird Effect. This caused a huge crisis of faith. According to these guys, Jesus was just another wise philosopher in history. Some of my classmates bought it. They left the Christian faith all together without batting an eye. 

But they were still baby birds gulping down whatever was spit in their mouths. 

Faith is anything but blind. It beckons you to zoom in and out from every angle. Picking and poking to see if there’s something you missed. That’s what I began to do. 

God isn’t afraid of people who think critically about their beliefs. In fact, He commends it. Look at what Paul said of the Bereans:

“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭17:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 They didn’t just devour the grubs and move on. Instead, the people of Berea looked into it for themselves. Was the interpretation Paul was giving of the Law correct? Did this Christ event really happen?

When was the last time you thought critically about your beliefs like this? Don’t wait until crisis hits to ask the hard questions. Start now. Avoid the Baby Bird Effect.  

Here are a few places to start:

Mere Christianity by CS Lewis 

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

The Universe Next Door by James Sire

…and anything by Francis Schaeffer

King Arthur and King Jesus

Both dramas have stood the test of time. Both take place in real periods of history. Both have hero vs. villain storylines and relate moral lessons to their readers.

So, if someone asked the difference between the Legends of Camelot and the Gospel of Luke, what would you say? Are both (or either) to be taken factually? What convinces millions of people that one is a fairy tale and the other is true?

In a society that likes a “turn the other cheek” Jesus but wants to scrub out the “resurrection Sunday” fairy tale parts, it’s important to know how to respond. What separates the tales of King Arthur from the words of King Jesus?

I think a good place to start lies with how such a narrative begins.  There are literary cues to every story – fiction or nonfiction; novel length or 140 characters.

“Knock, knock…” sets up a joke.
“Roses are red…” a poem.
“Once upon a time…” a fairy tale.

The writers in the New Testament, however, start their accounts of Jesus’ life much differently. Here are two examples:

Luke 1:1-4
In as much as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

1 John 1:1-2
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.

If the Gospels were meant to be moral fairy tales loosely based on a real-life person, then Luke and John are terrible writers.  It would’ve been impossible to follow for 1st century readers because it would’ve been penned in a fictional format that wouldn’t exist for another millennium. Instead, it claims to be a careful, fact-checked, peer-reviewed report of something they actually saw happen.

People 2,000 years ago might not have understood Germ Theory or aerodynamics, but they knew virgins couldn’t get pregnant and dead men don’t join you for lunch. This is precisely why the Biblical writers were so careful with their words. Something entirely different from normal life had happened, and it would change everything.

John concludes his book this way: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;  but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

You shouldn’t base your life on fairy tales. Luke and John didn’t.