Waiting on God Part 1: When God doesn’t speak: lessons from Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David.
Purpose and Introduction
The primary focus of this blog will be on Abraham with brief insights from Joseph, Moses, and David. This blog is intended for fellow believers who are enduring the silence of God during a trying time in life. Anyone who dares to walk on the journey of faith will face seasons of life when God seems to be absent/silent. Prayers appear to be unanswered, the fiery trials of life threaten to overwhelm, and God seems to be silent and afar.
You’re not alone in facing these difficult moments. Nor is it a lack of your faith or trust in God. These moments aren’t about your sin or falling away from God. At times we blame ourselves for God’s silence and doubt our faith. We may question God’s love and faithfulness to us. Yet, there’s more to the picture than our fail and limited human minds can comprehend.
If you’re reading this blog, I assume that you want to have a vibrant, growing relationship with God. You, like me, probably want answers for the seemingly absence of God in your life. There are reasons why God seems distant, or silent and each person/situation is similar yet radically different at the same time. My prayer is that you will carefully and prayerfully consider the following Biblical insights and truths! May you find strength, courage, and hope to press ahead in your journey of faith!
Abraham’s years of silence and trials
Abraham’s story begins in Genesis 12 when God calls him to leave his country and family (father’s house). God promises Abraham (v2-3) that He will (1). make him a great nation (2.) bless (3). make his name great (4). make him a blessing (5). bless those who bless him (6). curse those who curse him, and finally (7). make him a blessing to all the families of the earth. Abraham known as Abram at this junction in Genesis is seventy-five years old.
Abraham obeys and sets out. His first trial is a severe famine in the land of Canaan. Abraham is a stranger in Canaan with a large gathering of servants and flocks. He is surrounded by the Canaanites. He moves into the Negev desert region before going to Egypt. Abraham fears for his life and lies to Pharaoh. When God afflicts Pharaoh’s household and Egypt with plagues, Pharaoh sends Abraham away. Abraham will tell the same lie again later to King Abimelech in Chapter 20 when afraid for his safety.
Abraham and Lot then separate with Lot choosing the more fertile Jordan valley. Later in Chapter 14 Abraham gets involved in a war with Lot being captured. Finally in Chapter 15, God promises Abram a son, that God will be a shield, and reward him greatly. God again appears to Abram in Chapter 17 when he is 99 and makes a covenant. God changes Abram’s name to Abraham. Sarah is 90 years and Abraham 100 years old when God finally gives them Isaac.
For a concise read, I left out several notable events that Genesis describes Abraham’s faith journey. While God does appear to Abraham several times over this period of time–the presence/appearance of God is mentioned only a few times. Abraham faced the crises of old age with no son/heir, hostile neighbors, famine, wars, and familial strife. Are you surprised that he and Sarah gave in and tried to help God with Ishmael via Hagar?
Abraham didn’t have a Bible, Youtube, or theology books to help him! All he had was God’s promises and faith that God would be faithful! Take a moment to read Romans chapter four.
Applications from Abraham’s experience
- Obeying God doesn’t protect or exempt us from facing difficulties in life–Genesis doesn’t record Abram asking God for guidance or God appearing to Abram to warn him to not lie or help God’s promise come about.
- Abraham faced trials in light of God’s promise(s) to him. The old age/sterile Sarah, famine, and hostile neighbors would seem to contradict God’s gracious promises.
- Note that God sought out and chose Abraham! God is gracious. He also desires that we have faith. Abraham grows in faith by facing and growing through these trials. God doesn’t cast away Abraham even after Ishmael and the deceptive, self-preserving lies told.
- Abraham learns that God is faithful to His promises!
What Joseph, Moses, and King David have in common!
Joseph, Moses, and David all endured God’s silence, and trials in their walks of faith. Future posts of this blog series will address each of these giants of faith individually and in depth. However, I desire that you see the common element present in men of faith: long periods of waiting, silence, and God’s promises seemingly broken!
Joseph was seventeen years old when God sent him the dreams that would lead to his brothers plotting his death. He was thrown into a pit in wilderness, sold into slavery, falsely accused, thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit, forgotten for years in dungeon. There is no record of God appearing to Joseph during any of these time. However, Genesis 39:3, and 39:21 proclaims that “the Lord was with Joseph and made all things prosper in his hand,” and “the Lord extended kindness to him.” It’s likely that Jacob had shared his testimony of God and the accounts of Abraham and Isaac. Joseph probably knew about God’s promises and covenant with his family.
In any case, Joseph’s difficulties began as teen and lasted until his adult life! He was separated from his parents and not so loving brothers for years. He had to survive as a slave and alien in a foreign land. Yet when the story ends we find Joseph a man of grace and wisdom!
Moses at age forty realizes that something was terribly wrong in Egypt. Moses tried to stop oppression only to be chased into a forty-year desert exile! Moses was eighty years old at the time of the burning bush. Moses too would have learned about God’s promises to his forefathers. How could he reconcile these promises of God with the cruel captivity and enslavement of his people? Also what could an old man tending sheep in the desert do against the might of Egypt? Moses clearly has lost all confidence in himself as we see in his response to God’s call in Exodus Chapter 3 and 4. Moses didn’t hear from God for eighty years! And when God appears, He gives Moses an impossible task that Moses clearly doesn’t want! Egypt is the most powerful nation/empire in the world. Moses personally knew Pharaoh-probably grew up with him! Do you really want to hear from God? Is it possible that He might ask you to do something difficult, painful, seemingly crazy to others?
David’s life changed dramatically when the Prophet Samuel anoints him 1 Samuel 16 king. This account doesn’t give us David’s exact age, but he wasn’t yet considered a man. The passage uses the term “all the children” so consider between the ages of 10-15. David would later face Goliath (older teen), serve in Saul’s army, and face Saul’s unrighteous, jealous wrath. Link to quick read on the possible ages of David during key events. I want you to note how that David faced numerous challenges when only a teen/young man! note 1
Like Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, God graciously selected David for a special role/purpose. As others before him, David faced a difficult journey in walking with God. He too was falsely pursued, treated with contempt, and chased into lonely, dark places. He waited for years before being “recognized” as King over Judah at age 30.
- God has a purpose for our lives. What we are going through and facing are part of His work in maturing/preparing us for His service. Our sufferings and difficult circumstances having meaning and purpose even when we don’t understand.
- We can depend on God’s promises and remind ourselves that He is faithful even when we don’t hear from Him during our trials.
- God’s silence isn’t proof of His absence (Joseph, David). God was blessing and providing for Joseph/David even though they may not have immediately recognized or felt it. note 2
- We need to place our hope, confidence and faith in God not on our limited understanding and interpretation of events in our lives! Humans can’t fully understand note 3 what God is planning, doing, or will do in our lives.
- Walking with God will require patience, courage, and hope as we wait upon God to fulfill His plans for us!
1. We must recognize God’s call on young men and women. We are to actively love, serve, and invest in our younger brothers and sisters in faith! Set an example, encourage, listen to, and pray for youth around you. There are numerous young men and women who are seeking God and living for Him! They can benefit from hearing your faith journey and what God has done/doing in your life!
2. Present circumstances and difficulties tend to distort our perception of God and His presence in our lives. We must rely upon God’s Word and His Revealed Nature to accurately view God. Just because we can’t feel, or sense Him doesn’t me He is absent! During hard times, I recommend reading through the Gospels and focusing on how Jesus reveals Himself. The “I Am” statements in the Gospel of John are helpful!
3. God graciously redeems and guides us through His Living Word and Holy Spirit as believers. However, “full” understanding isn’t promised nor likely. God reveals what He needs/desires for us to know. Faith isn’t about having all the answers. Faith is about a relationship!