My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
The words of King David here in Psalm 22:1–2 seem all too familiar to all of us. If allowed to live long enough I would say that most Christians go through a season of their life, and their faith, in which they feel “left out in the cold” or all alone. Sometimes in the midst of our turmoil we feel like the Israelites roaming around in the wilderness apart from God for years. We see in Job 30:20 where Job, a man considered upright and righteous by God, even feels alone or forsaken by God. Job 30:20 says,
I cry to you for help and you do not answer me; I stand, and you only look at me.
Have you ever felt alone? Betrayed or abandoned by God?
Below we will explore some key ideas for “when God is silent.”
I find it obvious, but difficult at the same time, to acknowledge that like the nation of Israel God may be silent according to our own doing or decisions. When God is silent the first thing we need to do is evaluate any sin or lack of faith evident in our life. We see this in Hebrews 12:10 where it says,
For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
Sometimes God appears to be silent when there is sin in our life. Now it is important to note that this isn’t always the case. In David’s case he recognized this, but sin wasn’t the case at all with Job. When we notice or feel a “separation” from God the first thing we need to evaluate is our own spiritual health because God doesn’t move… only we do.
Psalm 51:10-12 hints that our own “straying” or “drifting” can cause concern in our “connection” with God. It says,
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Another aspect we must explore when we feel that God is silent is the idea that God’s silence may be placed in our lives to bring back to light what is, and should be, important to us. In other words… God may be quiet to get our attention.
We have heard it said that, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” but “familiarity breeds contempt.” Why is that true? The only thing I can figure, we also see it made true in other worldly things, is that deprivation draws out desire. We see it in the pursuit of wealth or success here on earth that is never satisfied.
When is enough actually enough?
What we perceive as a lack causes us to long for that particular thing that much more. I would actually step out on a limb and say that absence heightens desire. Ultimately it is through the mourning that we will know the joy of comfort. Jesus actually says this in Matthew 5:4,
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Our longing makes us ask, our emptiness makes us seek, and our silence makes us knock. Luke 11:9 says,
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
We wouldn’t search for something we didn’t know we were missing. Sometimes God’s silence is necessary to let us know that we have drifted.
- Seek Understanding.
It is also important for us to acknowledge in God’s silence that we aren’t God and we don’t always understand His ways… and that is perfectly okay.
Maybe sometimes God is silent because He isn’t ready to speak.
We don’t always want to think that way because it isn’t all that comforting… but too often we want to pray to God and have Him jump at our request. It comes down to a control issue. We have difficulty accepting and trusting in the God that is always in control and God does what He does according to His own timetable and not ours.
We live in a “fast food” world and we want everything fast and according to our time and plan… but God isn’t a fast food God.
I’m convicted personally of getting aggravated when there is a 15 second commercial that I can’t skip before my YouTube videos. Have we become that impatient? It’s hard for us to accept, but we operate and live according to God’s plan and timetable.
God is not on display to impress us… He is accomplishing His will throughout our lives.
It’s hard to keep pursuing God when we can’t see the “full picture,” but sometimes in the fog of life we can’t use the high beams… the dims have to stay on and it is for our own good. In these “foggy” times God only gives us a little at a time, and that little is all we need to keep on moving.
We also know that God is never “not with us.” He may be silent but He is still acting in our lives. Romans 1:20 says,
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
We can look around us and see God displayed so we should not be dismayed. In our time of trial God is still reigning on His throne. Our God’s goodness, power, and His faithfulness to His people is not determined by politics, current affairs, the money in our bank accounts, the sickness or disease in our lives, or any circumstance.
God is bigger than our circumstances, and He is working all things out according to His will.
- React out of Faith.
Lastly, our reaction or handling of our attitude in times of silence reveals a lot about us, and how we view God.
When we get angry or frustrated with God we must be careful, because what that says is that we aren’t sure if we can trust Him. We are sinful, and there are times that we will be frustrated and confused. Instead of remaining in that state and blaming it on God we must instead take these times to God and recognize that although God seems to be silent He is the only one with the answers to or questions and/or frustrations.
In times of silence God may be testing us, and we are called to be faithful.
Job seemed to understand this idea of testing in the midst of his hardships. Our suffering isn’t meaningless or for God’s entertainment… He uses it for His purposes. We may never understand His purposes… or He may eventually bless us with understanding. But, either way we must trust. Job 23:8-10 shows this understanding when he says,
But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
From God’s point of view everything makes since and is according to His plan, but from ours everything can seem messed up. We must remember that the world isn’t always how we perceive it to be. We know that the world isn’t flat, but from our point of view it looks to be that way. Trust God.
Don’t doubt in darkness what God has proven to be true in the light.
Do you feel alone? What darkness are you facing?
Seek God. Trust God. Carry on.