“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” ~Hebrews 11:6
Indeed, it pleases God when we draw near to him in faith. The apostle even says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). This is a precious promise of our Lord that we do well to keep in mind and continue steadfastly to believe, especially in times when we feel distant from him.
The writer of Hebrews brings this out poignantly as he explains that our drawing near pleases him when we “believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” We cannot simply think that because we use the name of God or say prayers addressed to him that he will draw near to us. That is what ancient Israel did, crying out to God as if he was one among their many idols. But he is not like them and refused to be numbered as such.
In response to their unbelieving drawing near, he said: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15). The explanation from Hebrews further illumines what this means–this means that the one to whom God will draw near is the one who comes with a submissive spirit, believing that God is God and that he accomplishes all his word. In this way is our faith proved to be real–when we believe that he is the Holy One who he proclaims himself to be and that he fulfills his promise, rewarding those who seek him with his presence and all things besides (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 8:32). God does not draw near to those who do not believe he is the Lord of all or who do not believe that he will keep his word and draw near to them–to do this is to have true faith. And with this God is pleased.
While our incarnate Lord spoke on earth, he said this: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). This is another point that it is good to think about in consideration of these things, as well. If we come in faith, believing God, it is because he is drawing us. Our sensibilities may certainly not be aware of that, but it is so. Therefore, when we are in times of doubt or distance or confusion, it is good to remember that God will draw near to those who draw near to him in faith–and that if anyone is coming in faith, it is because he is drawing us to himself.
And in this truth we may stand with firm assurance and plead with God as David or wrestle with him as Israel until the hour when he grants our plea and rewards our seeking with his felt presence in our hearts, with strength in the trials of life, and with all good things besides. For he has already given his Son for us–will he not then finish his work, blessing us and enabling us to come to him in lowliness of heart as a little child? Not only does it please him when we draw near in faith, but it pleases him to give us this faith and draw us to himself.
“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us: he will tread our iniquities under foot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” ~Micah 7:18-19