Tiny mountain church surrounded by pine trees and snow

When Pain Feels Close and God Feels Far

Nov 4, 2019

It was a question I never dreamed I’d ask. But that was before. Before life pulled the rug out from under my easy faith. Afterwards? All I could feel was my own pain. And God himself seemed far away.

“I’ve now come to recognize the near-universality of the “Where is God?” question. It is a question asked in the day and the night, by skeptics and believers alike. Behind the question sits a fear more crushing than any other pain:


The fear of being alone.


Although both physical pain and relational pain hold the power to alter a life, the latter is the more devastating wound. The first threatens the body; the second threatens the soul. Humans are capable of great courage when buoyed by relationship.


For example, a woman can bear the agony of unmedicated childbirth multiple times over with her husband holding her hand. A frightened ten-year-old will leap into a pool of frigid water from a twenty-foot cliff—a distance multiple times that of his own height—as long as his dad jumps with him. An athlete will push herself to uncommon limits to finish an Ironman triathlon, fueled by cheers of her friends as she strives toward the finish line.


Take away the presence of others, however, and the same feats turn daunting. Childbirth, cliff-diving, and endurance sports are entirely different experiences when performed in isolation. The higher the risk and greater the struggle, the more we need to know we’re not alone in it. The comfort of presence lends us courage to persist.


The same could be said for faith. It’s easy to stay strong when life is good. We assume our comfort is proof of God’s love. Thus, we sing songs, quote verses, fill gratitude journals, and preach rousing messages about the presence of God.


Until something happens that raises both the risk and pain.


A diagnosis or death. A child who wanders, a career that flounders or a church that fails. Poverty, chronic pain, injustice, unending loneliness. Political crises, human atrocities, homelessness.


There is a suffering that pushes us beyond our self-determination. No matter how we try to bootstrap our way to victory, we come up short. The trite cannot touch it; the untried cannot affect it. When we arrive in that place, agony makes us question God’s reality. It is here, in the dark, that our songs, quotes, and clichés don’t hold up to our terrifying questions. God’s silence seems to speak to His absence. Thus, we cry out in fear:


Where is God? 


Countries and governments, communities and families have been torn in two by the differing answers to this question. It’s a high-stakes conundrum, holding things like justice and meaning and purpose in its grip.


But what if God isn’t absent in our struggle, but fully present in it? And what if we could collect enough evidence of His presence to bring relief to our pain and anchor our faith outside the reach of it?”


Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves, pg. 17-18 (Zondervan, 2019)

This is my hope for Relentless. Not that you would read the pages and be entertained. Not that you would experience a diversion or distraction. But that through the pages my faith journey, your own faith would be both shaken and secured. Because whether you’ve experience a rug-pulling, faith-wrecking circumstance or not, it’s only a matter of time. Sooner or later, an experience of pain will blind you to the presence of God. And when that happens, I want you to know where to find Him again.

That’s I’ve put together a bunch of resources just for you, including:

  1. Premium Expanded Study Guide, useful for personal reflection or small group discussions
  2. Prayers & Meditations MP3 to accompany each chapter
  3. Screensavers and Wallpapers for your phone and computer
  4. Exclusive, intimate video conversation with Patsy Clairmont
  5. Relentless Spotify Playlist

For ONLY SIX MORE DAYS, these bonuses—valued at $150—are absolutely FREE. While I was preparing for this book launch, I wanted to create resources that would truly be helpful for your faith journey. And I believe we’ve hit the mark here. However, at 11:59 pm PT on November 11, 2019, these resources go away. I don’t want you to miss them. So here’s what you need to do:

FIRST, order Relentless. Any bookseller, any version (paperback, digital, or audio). I’ve included the Amazon link here, to make it easy-peasy for you.

SECOND, go to www.MicheleCushatt.com/Relentless and enter your information and order number in the form. Make sure you include your email, because that’s how we’ll be sending you all the freebies.

Thank you for being on this journey with me, friends. Your presence makes a difference. And I am so grateful for you.

Relentless Book Pre-order Bonuses

1 Comment

  1. Olive

    Thank you, Michele. So many times over the years the words you’ve spoken straight from your heart have touched me, blessed me. Often how you were feeling was just how I was feeling. Your offers of verse and prayer and permission to rest in the arms of God we’re just the blessings I’ve needed. We don’t know each other, but throughout the years, you have often been a friend to me and I have prayed for you and your family. Thank you, and my God bless you and your family. May your eyes and hearts be filled with joy and wonder beauty.


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