On Depression: When God Seems Distant

when God seems distant[Guest Post by Mary DeMuth] – Sometimes God seems distant. Here’s why.

When we lived as church planters in France, I felt abandoned by God. Why did He take me across the ocean only to abandon me? I read the Psalms where David lamented, and I deeply identified with him.

Oh how I understood his sadness, how far God felt from my day to day situation.

I grew depressed, despondent, and nothing seemed to be able to revive me.

Not the awesome food.

The beautiful scenery.

Or the sweet people.

I remember railing at God, nearly shaking a fist, wondering why-why-why He wooed us to France only to experience deep and unrelenting pain and stress.

In the aftermath of all that, I now understand.

God was testing me.

He wanted to see my mettle, how I would withstand the trials when He seemed far.

It’s a lot like when your parents said goodbye when you started to live on your own. They couldn’t be with you every moment of the day. They couldn’t be a nearby counselor. Because of your new independent status, you weren’t in that daily nearness. And from that perspective, your parents had the opportunity to watch what you were made of.

As I look back on France, here’s what I see now: explosive internal growth. God did show up, just not the way I wanted Him to, or expected. And as He held me through, He watched how I would do. He tested me.

Don’t think me any sort of hero, though.

I fell plenty.

I failed far too many times. I let depression hold me inside the villa, away from risk and people.

But on this side of the trial, I wouldn’t trade the experience.

This week I came across a scripture that confirmed this journey. Watch what God does in Hezekiah’s life:

“However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart.” 2 Chronicles 32:31 NLT

When God seems distant or aloof, take heart that perhaps He is testing you.

He is preparing you for something bigger, better, harder.

You’ve graduated from simplistic Christianity to the college of life, and He’s finding great delight in watching you fly.

Mary DeMuthMary DeMuth is the author of over a dozen books including her latest, Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus (http://amzn.to/yxEeaz) Find out more at MaryDeMuth.com.


[Photo: photogreuhphies, Creative Commons]


  • writerkate

    Excellent…Loved the deep, yet simplistic look at this stage that we all go through. Sometimes we become academic about times when God is silent. thank you for the encouragement

  • abbysnews

    Thanks for your encouragement. I think it is so comforting to know that God is always working even when it doesn’t seem like it or that nothing good could come from the various diffucult situations we find ourselves in. He comes through every time.

  • Alex Marestaing

    Great encouragement Mary. When we do have to walk through the rain it’s so important to realize that it’s God who is going to complete His work in us. So often in hard times we feel like God has left us and think that we have to bring about the change ourselves. We think that we need to “do more, pray more, be more” when in fact sometimes all we need to do is wait, let the healing come, and “Be still and know that He is God”

  • Deanna Wiseburn

    I have also seen the growth in retrospect, something I couldn’t see in the midst of my depression. It’s been years that I struggled with depression. Only a little over a year free from its grasp, and I must be ever so careful how I walk, so as not to fall back into poor habits that would lend itself to falling back into the pit.

    But it was the pit that taught me to trust God in all things. It also proved to me that depression wasn’t just a spiritual issue, but it wasn’t just a chemical imbalance either. I had to learn that I couldn’t compartmentalize my life. I would either believe and trust, or not believe. I couldn’t grasp that my struggle was necessary at that time, and that it would pass, and life was still worth living.

    I struggled for my very life. I knew I was saved and that God saw me, and cared…but He felt so very distant, and even time in the Word did not make me feel better. Time with other believers made me feel worse, most times. I had to learn to change the negative self talk, and quit trying to find my worth in everything and everyone around me. I had to learn who I was, then I had to learn that God loved me as I was, but not enough to leave me that way. Then I learned to trust God with my problems, one baby step at a time. Slowly I learned to let go of who I was finding myself to be, and instead trying to be who God says I am. I still don’t have it together….but I went from the brink of life to learning to enjoy life. My faith has increased exponentially, even when at times I feel I haven’t grown at all.

    I’ve learned to fly, now life is about continuing to fly.

  • Hannu Heikkinen

    Very enlightening words, thank you! I am currently in the midst of silent circle, like God is on purpose not listening, not acting at all. Have to trust even I do not feel anything. All the best.