I'm 23 years old. The last few years of my life have been the hardest ones to date. I have lost my mother to cancer and my grandfather died too, both Christian. But my question is: How can I get back on track as a Christian myself? Due to the grief, I felt and other life events that have got in the way, I find myself becoming more and more distant from God. I feel like I repeat the same sins over and over and that my repentance lasts only a little while before I'm back to the same sins. I feel like there is a massive gap between the young man I was in the church, passionate for God, and the man I am now, angry all the time and letting little life pains get in the way of me, and trying to make it all better by sin. I know it's wrong. I want to stop.
I can't offer an instant solution, but if you are willing to put effort into changing, it can be done. "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:10-11).
A common trap offered by sin is that it can offer a solution to some problem; it never does. "And why not say, "Let us do evil that good may come"? --as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just" (Romans 3:8). Sin only creates an illusion of comfort. It doesn't last, it doesn't improve anything, and while chasing after false hope the situation decays.
Anger is often the response people have in situations where they are trying to make things happen but they have no control. The real need is to separate what we can change, which mostly is ourselves, and what we cannot change. For example, sad though it is to lose loved ones to death, it isn't something we can change. "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Death is a consequence of living in this world. You can't change the fact that they are gone, but you can change how you view your current life. It involves changing your focus from this present life to the life to come. "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13).
Closeness to God isn't a feeling, but a choice to pursue God. "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (I John 2:3-6). The reason you feel more distant from God is that you know you are not walking after His ways.