In Chapter 14 of The Purpose Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren notes that the deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of our pain or adversity and loving Him when He seems distant. Human friendships often are tested by separation and silence. Phillip Yancey applies this concept to our relationship with God in his book Reaching for the Invisible God:
“Any relationship involves times of closeness and times of distance, and in a relationship with God, no matter how intimate, the pendulum will swing from one side to the other.”
Worship becomes most difficult when God seems distant. Yet, Rick asserts, God tests us with periods of seeming estrangement and separation to mature and deepen our friendship with Him. Henri Nouwen calls these times “the ministry of absence”.
Pastor Warren goes on to distinguish between God’s omnipresence and the manifestation of His presence. God’s omnipresence is a fact, while the manifestation of God’s presence often is as feeling. The author states that God’s presence “is too profound to be measured by mere emotion”. God is more concerned that we trust Him than that we can feel Him.