The most effective way to combat the impact of trials that roll like sea billows is to grow in the love of God before the wind begins to stir the sea around us. The key anchor for believers in Christ is God’s Word. Objective proof of God’s love is the starting point for experiencing or sensing God’s love. That proof was given by Christ and recorded in Scripture: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
We just passed another anniversary of the day the “November gales came early” when the Edmund Fitzgerald freighter sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975 with 29 souls aboard. I can’t image a more terrifying death than going down in a sinking ship.
Singer/Songwriter Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” depicts the harrowing hours before the vessel sank. Describing the final hours, Lightfoot asks, “Does any one know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?” The song implies there are places of terror and despair that block any sense of God’s love- if it exists at all.
It is possible even for Christians to feel disconnected from God’s love. Our own battle with sin and the presence of sin all around assails us relentlessly. Like the monstrous waves against a ship tossed in a tumultuous sea, the trials of life can beat us into submission. There are moments when we may feel abandoned by God and his love. Yes, even Christians can fall into terrible despair. The Apostle Paul once wrote to the Corinthians, “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Cor.1:8b).
The most effective way to combat the impact of trials that roll like sea billows is to grow in the love of God before the wind begins to stir the sea around us. The key anchor for believers in Christ is God’s Word. Objective proof of God’s love is the starting point for experiencing or sensing God’s love. That proof was given by Christ and recorded in Scripture: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The love of God for us is verifiable through Christ’s work on our behalf.
People who are Christian and know the historically demonstrated fact of God’s love for them can still feel unloved by God at times. As stated, the prime remedy for fighting these feelings is the truth of the Word. Prayer is another means to stay close to God and his love. Talking to God often and honestly helps (see the Psalms). Christ purchased direct access to our heavenly Father by his death and resurrection, so we should regularly enter the throne room of grace. We cannot love someone or know their love for us without talking to them. As we spend time with God in prayer, we sense his nearness and his love.
In addition to the Word and prayer, perhaps the most undervalued way to stay close to God and his love is through fellowship with other Christians. It is too easy to isolate ourselves from physical nearness with others in these electronic days. Facebooking with each other or texting friends is not the same as true fellowship. We need to be in proximity with other believers regularly. Sometimes we are embarrassed by our situation or maybe we are afraid to burden others. The very thing we need when we are struggling is the supportive presence, encouragement and counsel of others. Do not run away from people! The love we receive from our brothers and sisters in Christ is one of the main ways God shows his love toward us.
There is no “easy” fix for the despairs of this difficult life. I am suggesting, however, that God’s love is real. Jesus demonstrated God’s love beyond any question. It’s more than a sentiment. Even when you do not feel God’s love, it is still solid and true.
I am exhorting believers to avail themselves of the various means God has provided to become built up in God’s love as preparation for the storms of life that will come. By engaging in God’s Word, prayer, and fellowship with his people as much as possible, we stand a better chance of enduring trying times. None of us are exempt from feeling what is behind Lightfoot’s haunting line cited above, however believers have sure promises to call upon in such times.
Our response to the question- “Does anyone know where the love of God goes?” can be the rhetorical, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
God’s Word directs us: Romans 8:31–39
 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Dr. Tony Felich is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and serves as the Pastor of Redeemer PCA in Overland Park, Kansas.