"God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.'"1
A Daily Encounter reader asks, "How do I know when God is talking to me? I am so confused and I need so much help. My life is so hard and bad each day. I pray for guidance and wisdom and I don't know if God hears me, or if he still loves me. I don't feel that anyone loves me anymore."
Dear Jane (name changed), actually, God is continually broadcasting his love, power and blessings to all of us. The problem lies with our reception. It's the cloud layers of our unresolved personal issues that block our feeling God's love and being aware of his presence. These same issues stop us from feeling loved by others. In other words, it's negative feelings that get in the way—any one or more of a number of feelings of super-charged, repressed negative emotions such as unresolved hurt, grief, anger, resentment, jealousy, and/or a lack of forgiveness, plus fear of what God might want us to do or not do, or even guilt if we are living a life that we know is out of harmony with God's will.
First, to overcome, we can know what God is saying by reading and studying his Word, the Bible. All the directions we need for wholesome living are there, we just need to read and study the Bible so we know what God's Word says, accept it by faith regardless of our feelings, and live in harmony with his directives. Furthermore, as long as our life is committed to God and we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we have Christ's promise that he will never—not ever—leave us or forsake us.2 Again, we need to believe this in spite of what we may or may not feel.
Second, God's Word also says, "The Lord is near to all who call on him; to all who call on him in truth."3 So if we are going to feel/know/experience God's presence and "hear" what he is saying to us, it is essential when praying that we are totally honest with ourselves and with God and confess to him exactly what is going on in our life and how we feel. We also need to ask God to keep guiding us on the path to truth so we will see any barrier in our life that may be blocking our experiencing his presence and love.
Keep in mind, too, that Jesus also said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."4 So, as long as there is any area in our life where we don't feel free, we can be certain that there is some truth (or truths) we are not seeing and confronting. Once you see this truth, you will know what you need to do to put matters right.
Finally, you also said that you don't feel that anyone loves you anymore. More often than not, it's the negative feelings mentioned above, most of which are caused by impaired significant relationships (anywhere from yesteryear to early childhood), that stop our feeling loved by both God and people. When we resolve these negative emotions, confess our sins to God and to at least one safe friend or counselor,5 forgive any and all who have ever hurt us, and resolve any and all significant impaired relationships, we not only feel loved by people again but also by God. When we have unresolved impaired relationships and negative emotions (which may be repressed from conscious memory), most of us need a well-trained and capable counselor to help guide us through this healing process.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for the instructions for creative living you have given in your Word, the Bible. Please give me a love for studying your Word, the help I need to understand it, and the courage to live by the directives as found therein. And lead me to the help I need to resolve all of my negative emotions and impaired relationships so I will know and experience your presence and love as well as feeling love for and from others. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Acts 17:27-28 (NIV).
2. See Hebrews 13:5.
3. Psalm 145:18 (NIV).
4. John 8:32 (NIV).
Richard (Dick) Innes of ACTS International