Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Did you know that in Antarctica there are four months of the year when it’s completely dark for 24 hours every day? It would be quite unnerving to live in that place.
A few years ago, a reporter who was there on assignment said, “We saw the sun on the 20th April, and we won’t see it again until the 20th August.”
Living in extended periods of darkness must be difficult, and yet that’s what it’s like for many people who live in the darkness of the soul. Their life is full of inner darkness, and they say, Where is God when I need him? Why is God silent all the time?
I want to talk about the darkness of God’s silence because I sense many people ask this same question: Where is God when I need him?
Perhaps there was a moment in their lives when God was very real to them, and they feel that he is gone, never to return. Then life deals a blow like a bereavement, or illness, depression, or a broken relationship. These experiences can be shattering, and they feel God has abandoned them.
Going through terrible darkness
Author C.S. Lewis went through a time like this when his wife died, and he wrote a book called, A Grief Observed;
When you go to God when your need is desperate when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face. God is silent. There are no lights on in the windows.
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Lewis went through a terrible darkness of the soul when he questioned his faith in God. Gradually he found grace to continue his silent journey through the dark night, believing that one day the sun would shine again.
The Psalmist in the Old Testament knew this as well. He longed for God’s presence. He said in Psalm 42 (TLB): “Yet I am standing here depressed and gloomy…All your waves and billows have gone over me, and floods of sorrow pour over me like a thundering cataract…O God my Rock, I cry, why have you forsaken me?” (verses 6, 7, 9). His enemies taunted him, saying there was no God and that God had deserted him and he believed them. In verse 3, he says, “Day and night, I weep for his help.”
In another part of the Bible, we meet Job who also went through the experience of feeling God had deserted him. Job 23:8 (NLT) says:
I go east, but he is not there.
I go west, but I cannot find him.
But what both men had forgotten was this simple fact explained by Corrie ten Boom in more recent years; “No matter how deep our darkness, God is deeper still.”
God’s silence is uncomfortable
Our problem is that we are not comfortable with God’s silence. Our lives are filled with noise, and when we pray we expect instant answers. And if God is silent we become disturbed, especially if we are going through difficult times. It’s not easy if we are in turmoil of spirit, we turn to the Lord for an answer—and all we get is silence.
But there’s no problem in telling him of our frustration. God knows what’s in our hearts, and we don’t have to hide our feelings. When God is silent, we need to question the silence, and say, Am I missing something here? Perhaps it’s due to unconfessed sin, or wrong lifestyle. We may need to repent of our sin, and then we will hear him speaking. Or we get too involved in life, and God’s voice only gets lost in the crowd.
You may prefer him to speak in a big, loud voice, but he doesn’t usually do that. Having a quiet time with God each day is a marvellous experience because that’s when he speaks to you. In God’s word, he is continually having a conversation, a running conversation with us.
Or maybe we can think of it like this. When God is silent in your life, it can be a reminder that he is sovereign and we are not. He will speak when and where and how he pleases, and not just when we demand it. He is a sovereign and all-powerful God.
(To be continued in When God is Silent – Part 2)