Infertility, Trials, Trusting God

Distance: When We Feel Far From God

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I’ll never forget some life lessons. As we walked the path of infertility, I felt far from God. I couldn’t understand why He gave other people children, but not my husband and me.

In not understanding God’s intentions, I distanced myself from Him. It hurt too much to keep placing hope in a God who withheld a desire I believed He’d placed in my heart. I still had my quiet times, but that time was spent in rote activity rather than heart-renewal.

As I read Psalm 147 recently, verses 2-3 blared out at me. I’d also been reading Jeremiah and Ezekiel, prophets who spoke God’s messages to the people of Israel before and during their captivity.

“The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

He gathers those who went into captivity. Those who have been exiled from the Promised Land. The land He brought their forefathers to. 

The people’s choices of idols over God forced a divide in their relationship with Him. And their hearts grew cold to the point where they didn’t care anymore. They craved comfort over holiness. The world’s ways over God’s ways. Even when He warned them of what was coming if they continued on this path.

Nebuchadnezzar drove the people of Jerusalem into captivity. For seventy years.

But we know all this.

What leaves me in awe is that God wanted them back. He promised He would build up Jerusalem. That He would gather Israel’s exiles. 

His people. 

Even after their betrayal, God wanted relationship with them. Not only would He gather them back. He promised to:

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

God knew the breaking His people endured. He knew the wounds inflicted upon their hearts and bodies and minds. 

And He said He would heal them. 

Our relationship with God is different today. The cross is our covering. Our open door into the throne room of our Father. 

God is more accessible today than He was to the people of the Old Testament. 

Again, we know this. 

Still, we’re prone to wander. To walk away from our Father. 

Even after we come into relationship with Him, we’re easily distracted.

Busy schedules, screens, real-life heartbreak as we watch loved ones struggle and suffer and die. 

Friction between parents and children. 

Distance between friends. 

Illness. 

These are not modern-day signs of exile. But, real life has a way of distancing us from our Father. We become caught up in daily stress, and our hearts grow cold toward Him. 

Sometimes we’re angry by what He allows into our lives. Other times we’re confused and hurt by what doesn’t happen. By the suffering of loved ones. 

We sometimes place ourselves in exile, away from the intimacy with God for which we were designed. 

It feels easier, for a time. Less painful. 

That distance satisfies our desire to get back at God. 

For a time.

But our Father . . . 

Even when we give up on Him for a season, God never gives up on us. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. 

He’s there, waiting to gather us back into the folds of His love. He’s ready to heal our broken hearts and bind up our wounds—physical, spiritual, emotional, mental. 

He’s the only One capable of working such miracles. 

We will face times in our lives when we don’t understand the ways of God. When we distance ourselves from Him to try and protect ourselves. 

We’re poor guardians of our hearts and lives. 

As Hubs and I tried to understand why God chose to not give us children, the Spirit’s conviction that I’d made motherhood an idol stung deeply. Rekindling intimacy with God required me to release that craving for motherhood and seek Him first. No matter what He gave—or didn’t give—me.

As I let go of my dream, God brought healing by speaking the truth of His love over my heart. He helped me see the lies I’d clung to. As I released the lies, His truth brushed peace over my heart.

God eventually gifted us with two boys. It wasn’t until I came to the place of desiring Him more than motherhood that He could heal my heart. Bind up the wounds the lies left and show me His truth.

If—when—we go through those distancing times, we must remember that our God is faithful. 

He loves us. 

He’s waiting for us when we reach the end of ourselves. 

He doesn’t want to loom over us with judgment, but with love. When we come before Him in humility, He will heal our broken hearts in ways we can’t imagine. He binds up those wounds and speaks truth over the lies we clung to. 

He draws us into deeper intimacy with Him, so we’re no longer exiles. We are beloved.

What about you? What is one big life lesson God has taught you? How does God draw you near to Himself?

Click to Tweet: If—when—we go through those distancing times, we must remember that our God is faithful 

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee, and Holley Gerth

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26 thoughts on “Distance: When We Feel Far From God”

  1. Beautiful post, Jeanne. And the pictures are stunning, all of them.

    I guess the big lesson I’ve learned is that my life is not about me, and it never was, except in terms of that which I could – and was willing to – give.

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    1. Andrew, I love your mindset about how life isn’t really about us. Too often, I’ve lived as though it was all about me. I’m working on developing a much broader perspective than that. It’s most beautiful when we give ourselves in helping others . . . In the ways God allows us to. Love your lesson learned, my friend. I continue to pray for you.

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  2. Ah yes, Jeanne: ” It wasn’t until I came to the place of desiring Him more than motherhood that He could heal my heart.” And isn’t His healing wonderful? I’m so thankful that our good Father never gives up on us, never stops pursuing us, never stops guarding our hearts. I love this, my friend!

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    1. Yes, Lois. God’s healing is pretty amazing. It work me in my heart, my thoughts, my identity . . . He has a way of healing the whole us when we come to Him in humility, doesn’t He?

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  3. What a beautiful deer! My girlfriend lives in an area in British Columbia where the deer wander the streets and lawns. So gorgeous! God’s always with us in our wanderings too, even when we wander away, isn’t He? Thanks for sharing your story to motherhood. I know many must be blessed by this testimony especially those that are going through a similar season you have.

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    1. Lynn, our family likes deer and antelope and rabbits and any critter kinda cute. I’m so thankful that God is with us, even when we wander. He never leaves or forsakes us. I am thankful for His patience and His grace toward His kids. 🙂

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  4. Oh, it’s so true that we can place ourselves into exile, Jeanne. I’m so grateful that no matter how often we give up on God, He is so patient and faithful. He never deserts us and keeps on drawing us to Himself. He gives and gives and gives His grace! It awes me how God convicted you that you were making an idol out of motherhood and wooed you into placing Him first. Those difficult ways teach us to let go of all that is of ourselves and cling only to Him, right? Thank you for sharing this. As always, I love your photos. I always think dead trees show so much design from their Creator. And the one of the deer really warms my heart. It was refreshing to see the stream after it. It makes me think of the Psalm about how our hearts long after God as the deer pants for the water brooks. Thank you for all the encouragement! Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Trudy, I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m so thankful for God’s patience and grace and mercy when I’ve exiled myself from Him. I can look back now and be thankful He pointed out my idolatry to me. In the first days after that realization, the conviction and heartache were deep and painful. He does have ways of getting our attention, doesn’t He? Thanks for your encouragements on the post and the pics. 🙂 I thank God for you, friend!

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  5. Jeanne,
    Definitely one big life lesson or lessons He’s taught me is, like you, I have had to lay down my idols. We conceived our daughter quite easily and I thought it would be that way for our second. I experienced secondary infertility and it wasn’t until much heartache and laying down what i wanted that finally 4 years later I conceived. God has also used all the trials in my life to draw me into Himself. Not that I would wish any of these trials on anyone, but it was only in the experience of being in the crucible that I was able to experience the amazing, love, comfort, compassion, mercy, and grace of God. So in a way, I am thankful for those trials I had to go through. I would not have the relationship with God that I do, had I not gone through them. Thanks for sharing your journey!!
    Blessings friend,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, I’m sorry you experienced secondary infertility. It’s painful. Like you, I’ve found that life’s trials draw me closer to my Father. I always seem to have to come to the place where I’m willing to let go of what I want and yield to what God knows is best for me. I’m thankful for trials too because they do nudge me closer to Jesus. It is the trials that conform us into the image of Jesus, isn’t it? Have a great week, friend!

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  6. So many good thoughts today! I first paused when you wrote that your quiet time was more rote activity than heart renewal. Whew, that hits home. Then you talked about the cross as our covering, our open door into the throne room. God used you so much through these words. The images, photos, and how you put everything together is just beautiful.

    Sometimes, we think it is easier to pout when we don’t get what we want. But we are distancing ourselves from God, who desires to give us everything in His way and timing. If we stop at the pouting, we miss out on so much. Blessed by your words today! Love and hugs!

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    1. Mary, thank you for your encouragement. 🙂 When my quiet times become rote activity, I know I’m in a precarious position with Jesus. I’ve definitely been in the “pouting-will-get-me-what-I-want-right?” camp. Somehow, our Father never buys it. I’m so glad He gives us His best. Even when we don’t understand His timing, keeping a good outlook helps us receive so much more of what He has for us. Can I admit, knowing my boys watch how I deal with disappointments helps me not pout as often as I might if other eyes weren’t watching? So appreciate your insights, friend!

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  7. This is such a great post, Jeanne! I agree, it’s all too easy to distance ourselves from God at times when we don’t understand what he is doing, or to protect ourselves when it hurts too much to see our desires and longings unfulfilled. I hadn’t thought about it as putting ourselves into exile but that sums it up really well. It’s encouraging that God never gives up but always waits for us to come back.

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    1. Thank you, Lesley! I’m learning that trusting God, even (especially!) when I don’t understand is pivotal to keeping a good mindset. I still exile myself sometimes, but I’m getting better about just being honest with God when I don’t understand and waiting for Him to speak to me. So hard sometimes!

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  8. Love the pictures. And the post. Yes, so often we distance ourselves from God to stop the hurt, to punish him, to show him. And always he is there waiting for us to turn back to him again. He is so gracious. I think one lesson I have learned is that distance hurts me more than it hurts God. That in distancing myself from God I am hurting myself more than I am hurting him.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Theresa! I don’t know why we think distancing ourselves from God will be the key to lessening the pain. It seems like pain intensifies as alienation adds it’s nuance to the pain. I’m so, so thankful God is always there waiting for us after we’ve distanced ourselves. I love the lesson you’ve shared here. It’s true. Distance always hurts us more than God. We need Him with every breath. He doesn’t need us, but He loves us. And wants intimacy with us. Thank you for sharing this lesson!

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  9. Wow! Very real. That’s our story as well. I love your line of making motherhood and idle. Ouch. How true those words are though. I love that He never stops loving us and is always trying to bring us back to him, even in our brokenness. I had to share this. It was too good not to share.

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    1. Nate, I’m sorry you and your wife have walked this infertility road too. It’s so, so hard to understand why God chooses not to fulfill a desire He gives. For me, He used that trial to teach me so much. About faith. Trusting Him. Idols. And loving Him, no matter what He did/didn’t give me. Loving Him for who He is, not for what He gives.

      I’m with you, so thankful that God never stops loving us. Isn’t it amazing that He loves us in our hard-heartedness and brings healing to our brokenness? I’d love to hear some of the lessons God has taught you and your wife on the infertility journey.

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  10. Hi Jeanne,

    I’ve looked forward to reading your blog post.

    When we feel far from God, I like the title, because that something I can relate to.

    Jeanne, I always have this feeling that you’re a caring person because your blog posts are filled with this positive and encouraging energy.

    It has been a real blessing for me to bump into you and your blog in the online community.

    I’ve gained new insight into the psalms and the other texts from the Bible, which you have been blogging about over the last couple of weeks.

    Sure, God wanted them back.

    When I think about many of the great man and women in the old testament, I see them as influential people who let God, and people around them down with their immorality and tricks 🙂

    I like what you wrote about God being more accessible today than he was in the old days.

    I believe you’re right about that.

    What you wrote here stuck with me after reading:

    “God never gives up on us. He promises never to leave us or forsake us.”

    This is so true.

    I’m glad to hear God blessed you and your husband with two boys 🙂

    What about me? What is a big lesson God has taught me?

    The first that comes to my mind is the perspective that I’ve learned from Martin Luther and the early Christians that we won’t find happiness in life by looking in the mirror or via psychology.

    True happiness comes from relations with other people and with God.

    I guess that’s the biggest lesson.

    God bless!
    Edna Davidsen

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    1. Edna, thank you for your kind words. I have enjoyed reading your blog posts too. I’m learning a lot about the business end of things online. 🙂 I’ve learned more about Martin Luther from you too.

      You are so right. We won’t find happiness in the world, or in improving ourselves for the sake of improving ourselves. Or in psychology. Although, it sometimes seems easier to look in those places. When we focus on God and on others, when we take our eyes off of ourselves, that’s when we can experience true happiness. Thank you for sharing this!

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