When you cannot see the hand of God, trust the heart of God.

Through my journey in the wilderness and the dark night of the soul, I have experienced several seasons where I felt completely overwhelmed with the pain of betrayal and the pain of loss. As I mentioned in the last post, we must learn to lament with God. As we follow God’s invitation to pour out our souls (Psalms 42:4) and passionately express our grief (Psalm 31:9) and sorrow (Psalm 13:2), those moments can become quite messy at times. I want to share with you one of the darker, messier moments I experienced nearly one year after being fired.

Learning in the Darkness

On this particular day, I did not feel like an overcomer; instead, I felt overcome with pain, anger, self-hatred, and loss. In my despair, I decided to barricade myself in our master closet and empty my heart out to God once again. I turned off the light and laid on the floor crying. I reckoned that since I was in emotional darkness that I might as well be in physical darkness too.

As I laid there, a small amount of light peered through at the bottom of the door. In frustration, I grabbed a towel and shoved it under the door to make my place of lament completely dark. I cried and poured out my complaint (Psalm 142:2) for a prolonged period. Finally, exhausted I laid on my back just staring into the darkness.

What happened over the next few minutes is very personal. It was such an intimate moment between my Father and I that I have hesitated to share with anyone.

As I laid on the carpet, I felt the voice of God speak to me (not audibly, but in my spirit). God told me to put my hand directly in front of my face. After I raised it to my face, God asked me if I could see my hand. Being in complete darkness, I could not see anything, not even with my hand an inch away from my eyes. I replied “No” to God’s question. Then I felt God say to me, “Even though you can’t see your hand, is it still there?”

I answered the question by acknowledging that my hand was there even though I could not see it.

God then spoke into my heart, “Even though you cannot see my hand at work in your life, I am still here and at work. In fact, I am closer to you than your hand is to your face.”

In the wilderness, I am learning that when I cannot see the hand of God, I must trust the heart of God.

Trusting God

I must confess that my most of my life I have desired to walk by sight rather than faith. I prefer the entire map with pictures to guide me in my journey, rather than trusting him step-by-step in darkness. I want to see the hand of God, rather than trust the heart of God.

However, as a follower of Christ, I have come to embrace the uncertainty and mystery of this life. In the wilderness, I have discovered that I don’t have all the answers, and much of my Americanized Christianity is not in alignment with Jesus. In the wilderness, Jesus is teaching me to walk in the way of God – the way of faith. Strangely, I have found great joy, peace, and comfort by not always seeing the hand of God, but still trusting in the heart of God.

Recently, I watched a message by Brennan Manning on YouTube. Manning asked the question, “What gives God more pleasure and enjoyment than anything else in all creation?” Manning paused for a bit and then provided his answer, “A heart that trusts God.”

Paul declares this wonderful truth to us in Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” God’s gifts to us are immeasurable.

Trust is our gift back to God.

RELATED: What I am Learning in The Wilderness (Part 3 of 5)

The Heart of God

If we are to trust in the Father’s heart for us continually, then what is the heart of God like towards his sons and daughters?

1. Our Father radically loves us.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It is not just enough to know that God loves you, but you must also believe that he loves you (1 John 4:16). God’s love for you is fierce, passionate, unending, unchanging, loyal, and unconditional. As Brennan Manning stated, “He [God] has a single relentless stance towards us; He loves us.” And we did nothing to earn it.

2. Our Father totally accepts us.
“Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God” (Romans 15:7 NASB). God does not accept us based on anything we do. Our most outstanding performances do not impress God. Neither in our worst moments does God reject us. God’s totally accepts us by his marvelous grace and through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

3. Our Father completely believes us.
“The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Psalm 118:6, NLT). You must always remember the astounding truth that God is for you. He is never against you. Romans 8:31-39 states that since God is for us, no one can bring a charge against us, no one can condemn us, and nothing can separate us from the radical love he has for us!

In the dark night of the soul, when life makes no sense, when everything around you seems to be falling apart, when pain and hurt fill our lives, and when God seems distant, we can still choose to trust God and his heart.

Let us put our confidence in the truth that: God radically loves us, totally accepts us, and completely believes in us.

Craig Conaway is a trainer, coach, spiritual director, and writer. His passion is to help equip people to be courageous followers of Jesus who impact their spheres of influence for the glory of God. Craig has over 20 years of pastoral experience including directing an in-depth discipleship training school. He recently completed his book, Identity: Being Who God Says You AreCraig resides in Norman, OK with his wife and three kids, and is pursuing his Master’s of Leadership.