It is not uncommon to go through periods in life when God feels aloof and unconcerned.  Are you facing a time like that now?

There was a season of time when I was working on my commentary on Ephesians for Zondervan that I experienced a cascade of personal trials (unrelated to the commentary!).  It seemed like one painful situation followed on the heels of another.  I would often wake up in the night at 2 or 3am and my mind would immediately turn its focus onto these problems.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep from thinking about them and found myself wishing I could just get back to sleep.

I finally began going into our family room, kneeling by the couch, and would dump all of this stuff into God’s lap—grateful that the Scripture says that God invites us to do such a thing (1 Peter 5:7).  In my study of Ephesians for the commentary, I had been newly impressed with the fact that Ephesians 2:13 was the structural center of 2:11-22, a section that many scholars think is the theological heart of the book.  Ephesians 2:13 reads,

“For in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”

The nearness of God.  I began praying during these sleepless times that God would help me to feel and experience this nearness.  I knew objectively that the closeness of God is a hallmark trait of the new covenant and something that we should experience in a more profound way than the people of God under the old covenant.  Yet even under the old covenant the Psalmist could say, “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).  I would pray, “so, Lord, draw me near; please help me to sense your nearness.”

During these times of solitude, I did begin to feel waves of God’s peace that I had not experienced before.  I was often able to return to my bed and go to sleep without obsessing over a problem.  But more importantly, I began to cherish this sensation of God’s closeness and care.

Try it.  It is real.