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When You Can’t Feel God

Our sense of touch is vital for survival. God equipped our bodies to transmit and receive communication from the world around us through touch. He wired us to experience His creation through the sense of touch. So, how can we know He is real when we can’t feel God?

Today (and for the next few Fridays) in our series on Experiencing God through our 5 Senses, we’re talking about touch.


Science Behind Touch

One of my favorite times of day is when my boys burst through the front door after school (but before homework begins) and we embrace in a great big bear hug. (Only I call them brain boosts now. Apparently that sounds more manly.) If it lasts long enough I can actually feel our breathing slow, our heart rates sync, and bodies relax into each other.

Babies are often placed skin to skin against their mother’s chests immediately after birth. It improves bonding and continued close physical contact has proven to increase a newborn’s ability to thrive both physically and emotionally. Touch is powerful. It can be life-giving.

In fact, it is God’s touch that gives us life.

Touched by God

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“The LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

Genesis 2:7

When we read the Genesis account of creation we come across a stirring distinction. God spoke the light, and the waters and the ground, the vegetation, the heavens, and the animals into being. But He formed Adam from the dust. And then He breathed life into his nostrils. The Hebrew word used for “formed” here is yatsar (yaw-tsar’). It means squeezing into shape, to mould into a form, to determine, fashion, form, frame, make, purpose. It is the same word used to describe the way a Potter works with clay to create something. This is different from the way God created the rest of the universe. It is intimate, full of feeling, and indicates a tactile experience.

God spoke creation into existence, but He formed humanity by hand.

God spoke creation into existence, but He formed humanity by hand. #feelgod #experiencegod #5senses Click To Tweet

This is a reminder that we have a special relationship with Him and He wired our bodies and beings to thrive through touch. Because God gave us the sense of touch, He meant it as a means for us to experience Him.

So what does it really mean to touch something?

Merriam-Webster’s definitions of “touch” include:

      *come into contact with physically

      *put hands on something

      *become involved with


      *speak of or tell in passing

      *hurt the feeling of someone

      *move to feelings of sympathy

      *have bearing or relate to

You see, not all the definitions involve physical contact. We can be touched by something we’ve never come into physical contact with. That is the nature of touching God. We feel God by faith.

When You Can’t Feel God

Human touch expresses emotion. Love. Sorrow. Comfort. Compassion. Fear.

But because of our sense of touch, we also experience pain. Without the ability to sense pain, to feel, we could sustain life-threatening injuries without even knowing it. Yet, Satan twists touch into something sinister, causing us to avoid close connection and distracting us from its potential power. 

If we aren’t touching other people, we can’t be fully connected with them. Without that connection we struggle to trust. And how then, if we cannot trust the people we can see, can we trust the God we cannot? That slippery slope pleases Satan to no end.

Then, he uses a lack of physical evidence (including sight) to convince us of God’s absence. When we don’t feel God anymore, he uses our feelings against us. Have you heard him whisper these lies to you?

     It’s only real if you can touch it

     If it feels good to you, it is.

     If it hurts, it’s bad.

Jesus preached something very different. He begged us to take up our crosses and deny our flesh. Scripture tells us we are united with Christ through our suffering. Perhaps if we did a little bit more of that, we might begin to feel Him more fully. But maybe we’ve made an idol out of feeling good that keeps us from feeling God.

Have you made an idol out of feeling good that keeps us from feeling God? #feelgod #experiencegod #5senses Click To Tweet

Hone Your Spiritual Senses

To feel God we cannot allow science or cynicism to dull our spiritual senses. Too often we seek to numb our senses against the pain and suffering in this world, but what if that sensitivity was God’s way of allowing us to feel how His heart breaks for our trouble. What if numbing ourselves to the pain of this world desensitizes us to the work of the Spirit? We must remain sensitive to the working of the Spirit to feel God. Instead of numbing our feelings, let’s engage our senses to more fully experience God in the midst of our messes.

Feel GodConnection Through Community

Community can get messy. But it’s necessary.

I grew up in a church where we gripped hands to say The Lord’s Prayer. It was powerful. Though I’ve not attended a church that practices this since, my family and I still touch each other during this and some of the other prayers during the service. We touch during grace before meals and bed time prayers. When I pray privately with a friend, I often hold her hand or lay mine on her shoulder. When I’m hurting, I want to be held. That close connection seems to strengthen our prayers. We are bound together by the Spirit as we pray with the words Jesus taught us.

As we stand with our hearts aligned and our bodies intertwined before the Creator of the universe asking for His will to be done, His presence becomes real. The fellowship of Christ’s followers creates a palpable feeling of His presence.

Though I carry love for my children in my heart even when we’re apart, physical touch is a compelling part of our relationship, of any relationship. His presence is palpable when I’m among His people working according to His purpose. But without touch I quickly become disconnected from the world around me. The very world God created for His glory. The world He meant for me to experience Him though. When I connect with the community of believers God has provided for me, I feel His presence there.

I feel God by faith and fellowship. Both are gifts from Him.

Community is a messy necessity.

Community is a messy necessity. #feelgod #experiencegod #5senses Click To Tweet

Our words and our hands have the power to wound and comfort, to divide and connect, build up and tear down. For which purpose will you use your’s today?

Next week, we’ll take a look at how Jesus used His hands here on earth.


For more on the science behind touch:






Linking Up With

For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne EllerFaith On FireSusan B. MeadFaith Filled FridayGrace and TruthFaith and Fellowship FridaySoul SurvivalRah Rah Link UpTell His StorySitting Among FriendsTestimony TuesdayPlanting Roots, and Fresh Market FridaySalt and Light, and Becoming Press’s Writer Wednesday, Moments of Hope


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28 thoughts on “When You Can’t Feel God

  1. Liz, while the entire post is wonderful, this is what spoke to me this morning > “God spoke creation into existence, but He formed humanity by hand.” We each have been touched and formed by His hands. Such a precious reminder of how deeply and intricately He is involved in our lives. Thank you for reminding me this morning! Blessings!

  2. Community is a messy necessity; this reminds me of a quote my father likes to reference, “To live with saints above, that would be glory, but to live with saints below, now that’s a different story!” God help us! Thanks for sharing, Liz. Blessings to you.

  3. Liz,
    I love the distinction between how God formed the rest of Creation and how He formed man. What great care He took when He created us and He continues to touch us in so many ways. Just because we can’t “feel” God’s presence, doesn’t mean He isn’t always near and working. The disconnect is on our end….not His. Greatly informative post!
    Bev xx

    1. It is such a beautiful distinction. The disconnect is always on our end. God has done nothing but create connection! Blessings, Bev!

  4. I need to reconnect with the community. You pointed it out so clearly that it is through serving God’s People we touch and feel God’s presence . I needed to hear that.

  5. Love the image of the Father carefully molding humanity with his hands too! Great contrast with him speaking the rest of the universe into existence. Gonna hold onto that one! thanks!

    1. Such a beautiful way to look at His love and care for each of us! He is personally involved in each of our lives! Blessings, Karen!

  6. I love the fact that you put in lots of effort to extract deep truths from the Bible.

    Beautiful words and a quick reminder that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

    God bleSs you

  7. I love this series and looking forward to the rest! I appreciated how strait forward you are about our own human needs: “But maybe we’ve made an idol out of feeling good that keeps us from feeling God.” Powerful! I need to apply this in different areas of my life. Thank you for this!

  8. Thanks for this thought-provoking post, Liz. I agree that we have made an idol of our feelings. And that our enemy uses our feelings to deceive us and doubt God’s faithfulness. We must remember that our feelings are fickle. We are told that if we don’t feel Him then that means we have done something wrong or we have distanced ourselves from Him. This isn’t necessarily true. I’ve come to realize, through studying His word, that there are many times when I don’t ‘feel’ Him that He is drawing out my faith, He is increasing my trust in Him. Trusting in His word as truth – He is there even when I don’t ‘feel’ Him. Thanks for sharing on Grace & Truth.

  9. Interesting, Liz. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything on this topic before (not this specific nuance, at least). Great thoughts, friend. — And, thank you for your kind words and for being a part of #ChasingCommunity from the get-go. Your friendship is a blessing. I’ll still be writing over in that space, so I hope you’ll pop over when you’re able, and I’ll do the same for you. Sweet, sweet graces, my friend. xoxo

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