I am going through a period where communicating with God is a daily struggle.
I read with a certain amount of envy those who write that they have spent the day in prayer, or being uplifted by worship songs, or soaking in the Word of God, because these are all disciplines which feel beyond my grasp right now, and the resulting sense of peace and security that I had previously enjoyed therefore elude me much of the time.
In a way, it’s unsurprising. I believe very much that my relationship with God has been shaped by my relationship with my father.
And with hindsight I can see that I couldn’t count on my father for help, whether that be help learning how to tie my shoelaces or help defending myself against bullying schoolmates. I’ve forgiven him. He was doing the best he could with what he knew. But it has undoubtedly provided a weak foundation for a loving, trusting relationship with God.
I easily slip out of going to God first with my problems, the problems of living and suffering which face me right now. I’d much rather withdraw to a corner and try to work things out for myself. It’s not pride, just a learnt behaviour having had no one to depend on as a child.
My efforts at prayer seem weak. So at the moment I mumble. I struggle to find the words of praise, confession, or supplication that at one time came to me quite naturally. I talk briefly to my Heavenly Father and then lose momentum and tail off to a whisper, or allow some distraction to divert my attention.
I suppose I’ve lost my voice, lost my confidence. But I haven’t lost my faith in God.
I may have been crushed by mental and physical illness, but I still have no doubt that God exists, that our God is a living, loving God. Despite my love of theology that’s not based on any logic or rational argument but on an experience of connection and oneness that left me in no doubt that we are children of a benevolent Father.
Even if in my pain and suffering I groan inwardly as I try to cry out to him, he understands. He is closer to me than I am to myself, and he holds me in my confusion and isolation and tries to comfort me.
He longs for the time when I can calm down enough for his voice, that still, small whisper of a voice, to break through the roaring wind of my thoughts. When I can stop crying and realise that he has been embracing me and trying to console me all along.
So I’m not giving up on my attempts to reconnect with him.
Instead, I’m trying to be still in the midst of my physical and emotional suffering just long enough to receive his consolation and the hope that comes with it. And to find the words to ask for what I need right now – courage, perseverance and trust.
How is your relationship with God right now?
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me