Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
It’s probably happened to you—a time of desperation or longing when we cry out to God, “Fix this. Change this. Heal this.” And we hear nothing in response.
What does it mean when God is silent in the face of our anguished pleas? Does it mean he doesn’t care, or worse, he doesn’t even exist? When God is silent we can simply become upset with God; we become confused, we start to doubt. The truth is that we just don’t know what to do with God’s silence.
Silence Can Make Us Uncomfortable
C.S. Lewis said, “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” If you are experiencing God’s silence, start expecting him in the unexpected. Find God in creation, in the words you hear preached, in scripture. Believe these things do speak, and they are speaking to you today. You may not hear him directing you to a parking spot, but into the truth of his presence at every turn.
We live in a world where there is constant noise and very little silence. Noise is something that we are accustomed to and when there is silence, we become uncomfortable. What’s going on when God’s silence seems unbearable? What on earth is he up to?
The hard reality is, some things are best learned in the dark. It could be that God is not silent after all; it’s possible that we are not tuned into hearing God. We are surrounded by background noise and countless distractions. God is trying to communicate with us, but we can’t hear God because we have blocked him out.
Our minds are tuned into the internet or the television instead of reading our Bible daily or a few moments of quiet prayer with God. It is in those moments that we can hear that still, small voice of our creator God. And it is in those moments that we can receive answers to our worries or concerns.
Many Things Happen When There Is Darkness And Silence
On more than one occasion, Old Testament King David felt abandoned by God. But he knew that despite his feelings, he was never out of God’s sight:
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Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,’
even the darkness will not be dark to you.
(Psalm 139:7, 9-12)
Try to value times of silence. It’s imperative to stop and take stock. Stop rushing around. Silence doesn’t mean that nothing’s happening.
Ever try to watch a seed grow? The problem is, you can’t. It remains hidden under the dark garden soil until the seedling’s ready to break the surface and appear. Sometimes things buried in us need to surface, but they’ll only do so after we sit still long enough to let them break through. Perhaps they’re deep issues that have undermined our lives for years. Silence forces them to emerge.
It’s in the quiet moments of life that God seems to come and speak to us. There can be various reasons for God’s silence. Perhaps he’s spoken often in the past and we didn’t pay attention. Perhaps he wants us to pursue a difficult path without easing the load to gain strength and stamina. Maybe he’s teaching us that we have to trust him even unto death of a loved one or even our own.
How Long Does God’s Silence Last?
When God falls silent, how long will the silence last? It takes as long as it takes—and it will seem dark and lonely the whole time. But in the same way dawn always follows night, so, too, your darkness will end. Hang in there and trust him. He never fails, and he never lies. He can be trusted.
The good news is God will eventually let his presence be felt, and his voice be heard again when the waiting is over. Only he knows why and when. What we do know is that he is suffering along with us, even in his silence. It can be a time of real testing and frustration.
I like the story that out on a stormy sea one night, the boat seemed to be facing disaster. It was rough. The son of author Robert Louis Stevenson was on board. So he went to the captain’s cabin and asked if something could be done about the bad situation. Just then the pilot turned and smiled. Stevenson’s son went back to the men and said, “I have good news.” “What do you mean?” they asked. He said, “I’ve just seen the pilot’s face, and that’s enough.”
We have seen the pilot’s face, and it tells us enough to know all will be well. The silence of God will change one day. Just be patient and wait.