Have you ever had moments when you felt nothing but silence? You try to hear God’s voice but it feels like you’re going around in circles. You keep telling yourself “today, tomorrow, soon”.. but nothing happens. Then all of a sudden you find yourself slowly giving up hope –or worse — believing the silence of God to be the absence of God.
One of the most challenging and difficult seasons to get through as a Christian are the moments in which God seems silent. The seasons when we think we need Him more than ever, are the same seasons in which we sometimes feel His silence the most. Seasons as such can also be best described as trials of faith. The reason for that is because as you examine the season (or particular situation) you are in, you will come to find that the real struggle has nothing to do with whatever your present circumstance may be; but everything to do with what’s happening between you and God personally. So, what is God doing in that process? Is He simply disinterested in your life? Is He too busy to respond to you? Or, is the answer you are looking for present before you?
I have always been a firm believer that even what seems to be the silence of God, is still a form of response. It may not be the response we are looking for, or in the manner we are looking for it, but there are moments when His silence itself is actually saying, or pointing towards something much greater than the answer we are looking for. But before we dive into that, I want to point to a man in the bible by the name of Job. Here is a man who is rich in character (“upright and blameless, one who feared God” - Job 1:1) and wealthy in earthly possessions (“he was the greatest man among all the people of the east” – Job 1:3). Yet one day, his whole world changed. He lost all of his possessions, his wealth, and his children. The worst for Job was not over, it had only begun. Following these events Job found himself struck with a terrible disease that left his body covered in tumors and tremendous pain.
Although Job endured much pain, loss and suffering, in the end of that story we read that God restored his wealth and blessed him with even more than he ever had in his lifetime. However, here is the point of focus. Throughout four chapters in the book of Job, God remains silent as all these complaints are made against Him, but in chapter 38 God responds to Job — and what a response He gives! “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you posses understanding.” (Job 38: 4). Causing Job to look at the bigger picture that he has been missing – God is still God. You see, it wasn’t Job’s surrounding circumstances that were a problem, but it was his view of God in the midst of circumstances that needed to be adjusted. Job’s weakness was revealed through his trial as we see him respond to God’s questioning, by saying the following: “You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (Job 42:3-4). Job is basically saying that he was unaware of all the “behind the scenes” details that were going on between God and Satan. Instead he simply assumed that all of his problems were undeserved and that God was being unjust. In fact, in the midst of his suffering Job demanded for an opportunity to appear in court with Him. However, at the end of those four chapters when God finally speaks, His response proved how little of an understanding Job had of the bigger picture. It also points out the real problem: The understanding he had of God in his suffering.
This goes back to what I mentioned at the start of this blog about the silence of God also acting as trial of faith and serving the purpose of exposing what is truly going on between us and God, as opposed to what is going on between God and our circumstances/trials/needs. This allows for work to be done within us even in the season where we may think God is not involved or present in our lives. Job’s story forces us to question if our trust in God is so secure that even when He is silent, and we don’t have the details to what is going on “behind the scenes” we KNOW that He is still very present in our circumstance, and at work. God remained silent for those four chapters, but God was never absent during those four chapters.
That is the issue we have today. We make the mistake of believing that when God is being silent in times of need, He is being absent and/or unjust. We fail to realize that in those same seasons we feel lonely, abandoned and forgotten by Him are the same seasons He is working towards expanding our trust in Him, renewing our faith, and reminding us of His character. In the case of Job, by the end of his story we learn that he made a conscious decision to live by faith in God’s goodness, and to never question it again regardless of any circumstance, silence, or temptation. That understanding he had of God prior and during his suffering was renewed after enduring the seasons where he felt abandoned. We too, may not always understand what God is doing in that particular moment or season we may feel His silence, but we must ALWAYS trust in His goodness and remind ourselves that all we are in need of, we will receive —in His timing, not ours.
For this reason I believe that even in the silence, God is still working. He is still speaking. He is still moving. Hence, it’s still a form of response. Perhaps He may not be responding in the way we would expect for Him to do so, but His will is being fulfilled and that’s what we need to find comfort in. For when we find comfort in that truth, we are glorifying Him the most because we are remaining confident in His character. The best example for this was Jesus. He prayed in agony three different times that night in the Garden of Gethsemane and repeated only one thing: “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Matthew 26:39). Here was Jesus, about to endure the cruelest punishment of all time, for the sins of mankind and His request was only one to His Father “Let this cup pass from me.” Although the Father may not have directly responded with any words, Jesus brought the most glory to the Father when He cried in agony in that garden YET STILL continued to follow God’s will, even if it meant silence.
So where is God in the silence? He’s still present. He’s still God. He’s still moving. He’s still loving. He’s forever unchanging. C.S. Lewis summed it up well when he said “though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” So if His love for us is constant and unchanging, then so is He. Let your hearts find rest in that.
See you next Monday!