When God is silent

It's enough to drive a man crazy,
It'll break a man's faith
It's enough to make him wonder,
If he's ever been sane
When he's bleating for comfort
From Thy staff and Thy rod
And the Heaven's only answer is
The silence of God 
- Andrew Peterson

I guess we’ve all been there one time or another… crying out to God but getting no answer at all. Maybe you are in that situation right now. It’s such a lonely place to be. You might even question if you really are a child of God. But when we read the Bible we find that even righteous Job as well as David, who was a man after God’s own heart, have experienced God’s silence (Job 30:20 & Psalm 22:1-2).

And then we have Elijah, a true prophet if there ever was one. He was the one who was supposed to hear from God and then give God’s Word to the people. But we read in 1 Kings 18:1: “And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year….” Imagine that… Silence for “many days”… almost three years!

Why is God silent?

There could be a number of reasons for God to be silent. The first one we find in Isaiah 59:1-2: “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1-2)

Now we know that God is gracious and that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin on the cross. But if the Holy Spirit has convicted you of a specific sin and you won’t repent and let go of it, it will most certainly become a wall between you and God.

The second reason might be that God has a bigger picture. In John 11 we read about Lazarus who became sick. Mary and Martha sent word for Jesus to come and heal him, but Jesus stayed where He was for two more days. It was almost as if He ignored them! God might have been silent at first, but His power was revealed in an awesome way when Lazarus was risen 4 days after his death. We need to accept God’s sovereignty.

Thirdly, we might not be ready for the answer. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). Especially when it comes to the “why” question – do you REALLY want to know? Would you be satisfied with the answer?

Fourthly, there is a saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder. And also, absence hightens desire. Water is so much more refreshing when you are really thirsty (Psalm 42:1-2). Let me tell you, there is an intimacy with God that you won’t experience without these seasons of silence.

So how do I deal with the silence?

Hold onto God’s promises (Psalm 119:50). One of the most assuring scriptures is found in Hebrews 13:5: “…for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! Assuredly not!”

Remember that God’s silence is only how it feels, it doesn’t mean that He is not there. The righteous shall live by faith, which is based on God’s Word and not on our feelings.

Now is also the time to get real with God. When we read the Psalms, we see that David poured out his heart to God. When we cry out to the Lord in desperation and do not rely on “recipes and rules”, He will answer.

Lastly, we need to learn to delight in God’s silence. “In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.”(Isaiah 30:15)

It’s amazing how two people in a healthy relationship can just enjoy each other’s company without saying a word. So next time, instead of trying to run away from the silence, embrace it!

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