It goes by many names. Jaded, cold, complacent, hollow, empty, calloused and distant. But my favorite term to describe this phenomena is numb. What I mean is that feeling you have when you don’t really have any feelings towards God. You are just kind of existing. Sure you remember that passion you once had for the Lord, but somewhere along the way it slowed and turned into what you are currently feeling.
It happens to us all at some point in our Christian walk. Some of us it may happen only once but for most of us average folk we find ourselves in this numb state over and over again. What does God have to say about us being numb towards him? Nothing good. “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:16). “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1). “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27).
And while each of the verses above cover a different aspect, (being lukewarm, doing acts without love, being a hypocrite, focusing on outward appearances with wrong motivations), each can find their root in a numbness towards God. So I believe that being numb towards God is a very dangerous thing. But it still happens to us all! So what should we do about it? I’d like to discuss four things that help me when I am struggling with numbness towards God.
The first thing I find helpful is to repent. I find that I often feel numb or distant from God not because HE isn’t there but rather because I am living in unconfessed sin. But 1 John 1:9 tells us “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What an amazing truth! But rather than go to God when we sin we have a tendency to run from God because we have sinned. Satan fools us into thinking we can only come to God when we have it all together, so when we don’t, (which is often because we are all sinful), we find ourselves praying less and not confessing sin. The longer this process goes on of living in sin without confession and repentance, the more numb you will start to feel. So if you find yourself feeling numb or cold towards God today, is their some sin you need to confess? Try going to the Lord rather than running from Him.
Second, we need to be with other believers. Just like we tend to run from God instead of to Him when we sin, we often do the same with our brothers and sisters. Instead of going to our community of faith and asking for prayer and help we instead keep our distance because we somehow don’t feel worthy to be there unless we have our act straight. While this is commonly found amongst Christians today it is completely unbiblical. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
This looks different for each of us. Maybe some of you have a great small group where you can go when you are struggling with sin or feeling distant from God. Maybe it’s even your entire Church you can go before and they will lovingly encourage and restore you. For me, I have a few guys in my life I can email or talk with. Anytime I am feeling stuck in sin or distant from God I can share with them. They in turn pray and encourage me through those times. Oh what a blessing Christian community truly is! If you are feeling numb, go and spend time with other believers that we may mutually encourage one another in those numb seasons.
The third thing I have found helpful when I am feeling numb is worship and praise. Psalm 100:1 says “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!” A very key word there is “joyful.” It doesn’t say make a begrudgingly forced noise to the Lord. When we worship and praise our Creator it forces us to be joyful because we realize how amazing He is! This can often go together with appreciating his creation. Go to a majestic spot and listen/sing worship to God. Praising God with our mouth, viewing His splendor through creation with our eyes and hearing music given to us from His hand often will help jolt you out of that numb feeling.
The final thing I like to do is to read a book by a Christian author. I especially like to read autobiographies. This is the same as reading the Psalms. I am currently reading “Confessions” by St. Augustine. To hear his raw emotion and his struggles laid bare help me to realize I am not alone. To read through the Psalms and see David say things like “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1). To read that these great men of the faith even had struggles and times of numbness helps me realize that I am not alone. Read from other Christians and see how they struggled and how God faithfully brought them through.
So if you are struggling with feeling numb towards God, I hope these four things will help you. Confess your sin and repent. Go and be with other believers. Praise and worship God for He is great and worthy to be praised. And read from others who have shared similar struggles. My prayer is that can all overcome this numb time we may be having through God’s grace and help. May we turn to Him to restore our passion. If you have any other ways that help people regain their passion after God, feel free to post them below. I’d love to hear what others have to say!