Find peace like a river when you don't feel God

Finding Peace When You Don’t Feel God’s Presence

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It was a beautiful day to be on the river. Until we flipped our kayak, got stuck on rocks in shallow water, and then punctured our inflatable kayak. So what does a failed kayaking trip have to do with finding peace when you don’t feel God’s presence? Read on my friends! And yes, I do have some tips for what you can do to experience the peace that God promises us, regardless of what you are feeling.

A River Adventure to Finding Peace

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When my son and I launched our tandem, inflatable kayak on the wide Hiwassee River, the sun was shining and the river was crowded. We had not even developed a good paddling rhythm (well, my son often tells me to just quit paddling – apparently I never get in sync with him 😀) when we approached the first drop.

It was not a huge ledge, but it would be important to approach it going straight. Unfortunately, two young girls in front of us (remember the river was crowded) got hung on some rocks and were partially blocking our passage.

So before we knew it, our kayak was bounced sideways and flipped as we went over the drop. (I know, I know… more experienced paddlers could have avoided this pile up) The water was COLD and strong.

Thankfully we were able to climb up on some rocks and with the help of another kayaker, get back in our kayak. We retrieved a lost paddle and started back down the river.

No sooner had we caught our breath, then the river became so shallow our kayak quickly “bottomed out” and came to a stop.

After being tugged out of the shallow waters and off the rocks, we floated to a small island to take a break. It was then that we noticed our inflatable kayak was losing air in the bottom section. We assumed it was either punctured by a fishing hook (tons of fishermen on the river that day) or during our scooting session across the rock in the shallow water.

Sea Eagle SE330 Inflatable Sports Kayak Start Up Package

Here is the kayak that sprung a leak! I still think it is a fun alternative to a traditional kayak.

I laughed, and my son crossed his arms and scowled.

A group of “real” kayakers soon landed on the little island to eat their lunch. They were friendly and quickly overheard our conversation about our pitiful kayak.

My son wanted to wade to shore, kayak in tow, and walk the remaining three miles to the river take out where my husband waited for us.

The land along side the river was steep and the only level path to walk would have been along the railroad tracks that hugged the east Tennessee mountain.

If a train came there would be nowhere to go but down. Big no from me.

I watched kids floating by in their tubes, and I decided that our kayak with its side chambers and seats that were still inflated, could get us down the river. It would be like a long, narrow tube. Right?

The other kayakers agreed our kayak should make it and offered to stay with us in case we needed help.

It was awkward getting in our kayak with its deflated bottom, and we promptly flipped it while climbing in.

My son was not happy. It was obvious he had his doubts.

In his defense, I had floated this section of the river several times and knew that countless families made their way down in tubes, rafts, duckies, and kayaks. He was 15 during this river adventure, and he was 9 years old the last time he rafted this section of the Hiwassee.

I will also admit that he is a better paddler than me, and I think he felt responsible for getting me safely to the take out.

Peace Like a River

The majority of the the remaining trip on the river was uneventful, despite our low riding kayak. The group of kayakers did stay with us, encouraging us, and giving us paddling tips.

As we were floating in a calm section, the blast of a train whistle broke the silence. One of the men from the group of kayakers grinned and called out, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t walk the tracks back now?”

I knew one, last rapid awaited us before the take out. Although only a class II rapid, it was the biggest rapid on this Hiwassee River run. The grand finale. The rapid the river outfitters once planted photographers at for fun, photo souvenirs.  A rapid called Devil’s Shoals.

When the kayaking group leader started giving instructions to the others for running this wave train and reassuring them he would go first and wait with his throw rope handy, my son started balking.

He was concerned our poor kayak would not make it. And I think the group leader’s serious instructions for the rapid made him wonder what we were getting into.

“Don’t you think we should get out and portage this rapid?” he asked.

I knew that was pretty much out of the question. We were to the point of no return, and regardless, it was not practical or necessary. I told him if we took a spill and went swimming, the river water quickly calmed past the rapid. We would be fine. I knew guys that had body surfed this rapid over and over for fun.

Peaceful river

I reached back and patted my son’s leg. “You know the Bible says God gives peace like a river.”

My son quickly replied “Well, I’m just not feeling it.”


How many times in the middle of a stressful situation in our lives, have we not felt God’s peace?

How Can We Feel the Presence of God and Find Peace?

So when your boat won’t float or the ship is sinking, what do you do? Panic, worry, complain?  I know I have done all three before in my life.

Even though we were actually fine that day on the river, my son sure didn’t feel like it. He was frustrated and nervous.

I know you may be thinking you have faced or are facing tougher situations than just a crippled kayak on a crowded river.

Maybe your crisis has lasted for days, weeks, months, or even years.

Have you ever wondered why you can’t feel God’s presence in your life and what you should do to find the peace of God that you know is out there? Somewhere….

Choose to Believe God’s Promises

Every single aspect of our relationship with God is based upon our choice to believe. Having faith. Finding peace in God is no different, even if we don’t feel Him initially.

Many situations in our life are over in a flash like that day we faced that rapid, and all you have time to do is hold on to your belief in God. Regardless of what you feel.

The fact that my son did not feel God’s peace that day, did not change the fact that God was still with us.

Rest assured that God’s protection and provision are not based on our feelings. Sure, we want to feel Him and have the peace of God in our lives, but don’t despair if you just aren’t feeling it. God is still there. He promised to never leave or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Keep Your Eyes on Jesus to Find Peace

Stay focused on Jesus, not your problems. Don’t dwell on the negative, scary situation in your life.

When fear rears its head, remember God promises peace.

When depression tries to overwhelm you, remember God promises joy will come.

Many of us know the story of Peter walking on water. He was fine until he took his eyes off Jesus and began to doubt. That’s when he started sinking.

Pray to Find Peace

Don’t use prayer as a last resort. Don’t adopt the mentality that if all else fails – pray. Pray first.

Ask God for help. Ask God to give you peace. So distraught you can’t form your prayer? Just pray the name of Jesus.

I say a prayer every time I launch my raft, tube, or kayak on the river and that day was no exception!

A consistent, strong prayer life will actually prepare you for those stressful situations.

Stand on God’s Word to Find Peace

Hold onto those Bible verses of peace and strength. Meditate on them.

They are not just a mantra to chant and recite. The Word of God is alive and will work in your life.

Memorizing Scripture and studying the Bible will strengthen your faith and give you a life preserver to cling to when the storms come your way.

I knew the Bible said we could have peace like a river, which is a never ending, constant flowing peace.

Download Your Peace of God Scripture Cards 

Examine Your Heart and Life

Have you examined your heart and life for any sin that may be separating you from God?

Ask God to search your heart and reveal to you anything that is not pleasing to Him. Discontent, bitterness, unforgiveness, and anger can be silent wedges between you and finding the peace and presence of God.

Many times we think God has forgotten us or not heard our prayers. We struggle to find peace and wonder why we can’t feel God. We think God has left us when in reality we have not made Him a priority in our lives.

Remember What God Has Already Brought You Through

Don’t forget about the miracles God has already done in your life. It’s crazy how easy it is to forget, although it shouldn’t be.

God is faithful. Take a mental journey to reflect on the times God showed up in your life.

The longer you walk with God (and sometimes the older you are) the more experiences you will have to reflect on.

I imagine you can even look at your current situation and see God working. Don’t wait on a feeling seek Him. Find His presence.

Like our river adventure. Our kayak was still floating, and I believe that group of kayakers did not just land on that little island by chance. God placed people in our path to escort us down the river. Could we have made it without them? Yes, but it was nice to have their support. Our river angels.

God places people in our lives when we need them. Don’t brush it off as a coincidence and miss the hand of God.

Remember, God has done it before, and He will do it again for you.

Finding the Peace of God

I know how hard it can be when you are worried and scared.

I know that peace can feel like it is out of reach…..

I know reading a few tips in a blog post doesn’t make peace suddenly appear.

I know these tips seem too easy, too short, too basic to work.  But they will. They may seem like basic truths, but they are profound when executed.

I also know that God is working in your life and the closer you draw to Him, the closer He will draw to you.


Keep your eyes on Jesus, not the situation.


Hold fast to Scriptures of peace.

Examine your heart and life.

Remember what God has already done.

Even if you are struggling to find peace and don’t feel God’s presence like you think you should, know that He is there and in control.

kayak paddle

Oh, and that final rapid we faced on the river that day? We paddled strong through it, our crazy kayak momentarily felt like it “jack knifed” in the middle between us, and we came out the other side just fine.

It was over in seconds and kinda fun. Or at least I thought it was! Plus, our river adventure turned into a teachable moment about the peace and presence of God for my you and my son!

And we now have regular kayaks, although I still think inflatables are pretty neat!

Finding peace when you don't feel God

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