What To Do When God is Silent
As much as I hate to admit it, I have trust issues. Showing up at the most undesirable times, they’ve caused me to question my friends, my spouse, and even GPS. Generally, I’m okay as long as there is some form of communication, but it’s in the silence when I start to lose it.
You send a text but there is no response.
You called a week ago and no one calls you back.
You’re following directions but GPS stops talking.
It’s in these times when I get uncomfortable. Beginning as uneasiness, internal doubt surfaces and fear eventually joins the party. Before you know it, I’m swimming in full blown uncertainty: second guessing anyone and anything in close proximity.
But the stakes are raised when I transfer my trust issues to God. I noticed this deceitful habit in counseling while going through a 6 week curriculum. What I discovered is there is a relationship between the type of biological fathers we grew up with and how we view God.
My parents got divorced when I was just a baby and subsequently I spent little to no time with my dad. Inadvertently, I developed a view of God as being silent, distant, and uninterested in the intimate details of my life. Sure, I believed in God; but I assumed there were certain areas of my life He did not care to address.
Topping off the list would be my broken heart. Years seemed to accumulate like dust without ever seeing the changes I wanted to see in me. I questioned whether God was listening at all? I mean what type of a God would intentionally not answer our prayers?
If God was a good God who loved his children, why would he allow circumstances in our lives; encourage us to pray to Him about them; and then not answer? I never questioned God’s existence but I did question His character – publicly.
Thankfully, my rant met some opposition. I was forced to determine whether my faith in God was contingent on answered prayer. My honest answer was, “Yes.”
But forcing God into an answer-my-prayer-box would make Him nothing more than a genie here to serve me. God is not governed by the ever-changing whims of man. He is sovereign.
Following Him requires acceptance of this truth. My faith cannot waver based on answered and unanswered prayer. I must trust that God’s actions are always purposeful, even when He is seemingly silent.
We see this on the cross.
Jesus, cried out to God the Father at the epicenter of His work on earth. He had suffered immensely. He was hungry. Humiliated. Stripped. Mocked. Beaten. Flogged. Pierced. Betrayed and dying a very public and gory death on a cross.
One of these scenarios alone was enough to send the least attentive parent running to the aid of their child. But Christ’s communication with his heavenly Father was met with silence.
“About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).” Matthew 27: 46 (NIV)
Here the word forsaken means to abandon, desert, or leave in straits. These are not the actions of a father in relation to his son. No one expects this of a loving father, let alone a holy God.
In the midst of Jesus’ most unbearable moments the unthinkable happened, His heavenly Father was silent. There was no, “Hang in there; You got this champ; or I believe in you.” Nothing.
God could not answer Christ’s question because of the sin Christ bore as He hung on that cross. Our sin, that Christ took on, created a barrier between Him and God the Father.
This was God’s redemptive plan from the beginning.
God’s silence was not a reflection of a lack of love for His son. It was a more a demonstration of His great love for all mankind. It spoke of a plan set into motion before Christ left heaven and came to earth. Had God the father intervened, salvation would not be a reality for you and I.
In completing His work on the cross Jesus held onto to the love and affirmation God had previously communicated.
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3: 17 (NIV)
Christ demonstrated how to handle silence for all of us. He did not panic or abort his earthly mission. He resolved to finish the work of His heavenly father for my sake and yours too. If God is seemingly silent in our lives, we can rest on 4 truths.
God loves us.
He is sovereign and has a plan.
Although bad things happen, God is good and His nature never changes.
God may seem silent, but he speaks.
His communication is endless. Through the Bible, people, nature, and our circumstances, God communicates His love for us. The challenge is silencing the noise around and within so we can hear.