When God Seems Absent

There are times in life when God seems absent, but He never is. God is always at work in the lives of believers, every hour of every day.

In his excellent commentary on the Old Testament book of Esther, Charles Swindoll wrote, “Who of us has not longed for a word from God, searched for a glimpse of His power, or yearned for the reassurance of His presence? … Yet later, we realize how very present He was all along.”

When the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were discouraged after the crucifixion of Christ, none other than Jesus Himself, the risen Lord, joined them on their journey. They didn’t realize it, but Christ himself was walking with them. And at the end of their journey He revealed Himself to them.

Life can be that way. There are times when we sense the presence of the Lord. There are times when we see the hand of God. Then there other times when we don’t feel God’s presence and don’t see His hand. We wonder whether God has abandoned us.

The truth is that He never has, and He never will. The Bible says, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV).

You’re probably familiar with the word providence. We say things like, “It was providential” or “It’s providence.” But what does that mean? Providence comes from the Latin word providentia, which means “foresight” or “foreknowledge.” So when we use the word providence, we’re simply saying this: God sees things before they happen.

There is nothing that is accidental or a result of dumb luck. It’s all guided by the providence of God. Our lives are like a movie: they have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Some lives are like “The Sound of Music,” with raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. And other lives are like “Braveheart,” with lots of conflicts and battles.

Sometimes our lives don’t make sense. But if you have put your faith in Christ, you can be confident of this: God is at work in your life.

Christians don’t believe in coincidence; we believe in providence. The Bible says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives” (Psalm 37:23 NLT).

I’m sometimes asked what my favorite Bible verse is. It’s a somewhat difficult question to answer, because I have a lot of favorite Scripture verses. A lot depends on what I’m going through in the moment.

For instance, if I’m in a difficult and worrisome situation, I suppose my favorite is Philippians 4:6–7, which says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (NLT).

Then again, if things aren’t making sense or seem a bit chaotic, my favorite Scripture at that moment may be John 14, where Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me” (verse 1 NKJV).

When things are not making sense, Romans 8:28 is a go-to verse: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (NKJV).

Overall, if I had to choose just one verse, I would say that Jeremiah 29:11 is my favorite: “‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope’” (NKJV).

If God had simply said, “I know this single thought that I had about you for a nanosecond,” I would be happy to think that the almighty God, the creator of the universe, had even a passing thought about me. But that is not what God says. He says, “I know the thoughts” – plural. They’re not past tense thoughts; they’re present tense and future tense.

God is at work in your life, and He has a plan and a purpose.

Sometimes we say, “I don’t get why my life is going this way. I don’t understand this interruption. I don’t know why this thing has happened to me. I don’t know why I am where I am right now.”

Did it ever occur to you that you are where you are for such a time as this? Did it ever occur to you that you are exactly where God wants you to be – that He has a plan and a purpose in the place where you are?

That was certainly the case with Esther’s life, which we read about in the Old Testament book that bears her name. The search was on for the next great beauty of Persia, and whoever won would be the next queen. I don’t think Esther ever aspired to be a queen. She didn’t have any videos on YouTube or any selfies uploaded to Facebook and Instagram. She probably just thought she would follow the Lord, live a quiet life in obscurity, marry a nice Jewish boy, and have a family.

But God had a plan for her life. He put His hand on her and put her in a special place as the queen. When an edict went out that all the Jewish people would be put to death, Esther’s cousin Mordecai came to her and said, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NKJV) She could have simply dismissed this. But Esther understood that God put her where she was for a reason.

God was quietly but directly working, moving and rearranging events and changing minds in the most secular of settings.

God is in control of your life, too, and He will accomplish His purposes in His time. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes that He has made everything beautiful in its time – not before and never after.

Taken From My Weekly Column at World Net Daily.

7 thoughts on “When God Seems Absent”

  1. William R Moseid says:

    Pastor Greg Laurie,
    The Spirit is giving me 2 songs:
    “He touched Me” about the woman who had suffered with an issue of blood for 13 yrs, spent all of her $ To no avail. One day she saw Jesus in a crowd & said to herself, “If I Could But Touch, the hem if His Garment I would be made whole”. She did & She was . . .”

    “Faith is the Answer That We’ve been looking for,
    Faith is the Answer That get’s us in The Door.
    After all is said & done & past, only what’s Done,
    For Christ fir Christ will last.” Is the Chorus.

    Please put these on your Prayer List for the Spirit
    to empower me to complete them.

  2. Ruth Vandenberg says:

    Sometimes God seems absent even though I pray and praise him for everything. I’ve been struggling for some time, I love reading your daily messages, they make me feel closer to God. I wish I was stronger so I can help and share with others.

  3. Susan Ryan says:

    Thank you so much Greg. Please keep us in your prayers as I am in the line of fire defending “the cross and the chapel” at our local va hospital in Boise Idaho. My spirit is telling me to be vigilant and I know that prayer has kept me alive for all of my life and I really need intercessory prayer for this issue. They have taken the cross of the wall and the chapel out of the building in our little
    Idaho State Veterans Home. Terrible situation. God Bless you for all that you do. You are my favorite!

    1. Kim says:

      You need to contact tge ACLJ at aclj.com. They are a group if Christian lawyers who help people like you defend our religious freedom and constitutional rights. I have listened to them tell many stories about people just like you with situations very much like yours and they have helped reverse these unconstitutional decisions to remove faith based things from public places.

  4. Tim says:

    Thank you brother Greg. I really needed this reassurance of God working in my life today.

    God Bless,


  5. Bernie says:

    Short in length but long in wisdom, thank you for this profound devotional.
    May our Lord and Savior bless you and yours,
    Bernie Sierra

  6. Susan Anderson says:

    So encouraging and a great reminder. I need to read everyday. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.