In writing this particular post, I credit Randy Alcorn’s excellent article about God’s silence for the main ideas/concepts of this post. I recommend that you read this article and glean from it! My desire is to further explore items he mentions.
Article Credit: Randy Alcorn: Waiting When God Seems Silent as posted on desiringgod.org
All quotes labeled as Randy Alcorn comes from the above article
Is God Really Silent in our Lives?
This is an important question that we need to consider! How often do we complain that God isn’t present, we don’t know what to do or say, and other similar complaints? I find myself doing this when I lose focus and spend more time worrying than I do trusting in God. Is God’s Word ever silent? Open the Bible anywhere and you will hear God’s voice as you read. If you are like me, you may wonder how what you read applies to your own life and situation.
Read Exodus and see God’s mighty miraculous deeds. Yet, it’s also apparent considering God’s redemptive actions, His people still don’t trust Him when pressured. Are we any different? We want to see and experience God in mighty ways without the confusing and chronic difficulties that come in life. Is it possible that God seems silent because there is so much “noise” in our lives and “busy-ness” that we don’t recognize Him when He speaks?
My old testament professor reminded me that God’s grace is present and visible in every book of the Bible–not just the New Testament Gospels! The historical narratives of God’s people (Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, and Judges) shows that time after time they failed yet God intervenes to save and deliver them. God even sends His prophets–Samuel, Nathan, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others to deliver His word. Sometimes the people respond and repent, but as a whole they don’t. That’s why Hebrews warns us about not entering God’s rest (see my previous blog about entering God’s rest).
When we can’t hear or discern God
There are also those times where we are daily reading God’s Word, praying for guidance, and practicing spiritual discernment/disciplines. Yet, God doesn’t seem to be answering us or giving us the answers we need or want. Does that mean that we are sinning or not seeking God? No, it may mean that God wants us to keep seeking Him, hungering for Him in an increasing manner even when we can’t feel or discern that He’s there.
How much do we really desire God? How can we know how much we desire God? This becomes apparent when the confusing and trying times of life come upon us. Our reaction and thoughts often give us clues to our situation. Do we love God’s many blessings and our self-fulfilling dreams more than God Himself? Do we live our lives for ourselves or others more than seeking to live for God? These are important questions to ask yourself!
Perhaps God brings times of difficulty and silence to draw us even closer! Remember the story about young Samuel when God speaks to him and he thinks that it’s Eli. God had to speak multiple times before Samuel (at Eli’s prompting) finally asks God if it’s Him. Samuel had to learn to hear God’s voice!
God loves us perfectly and desires to perfect our desire for Him
Randy Alcorn writes:
“Waiting on God involves learning to lay our questions before him. It means that there is something better than knowing all the answers: knowing and trusting the only One who does know and will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).”
This is a lesson that God has taught me during my “dark night.” God graciously allowed me the privilege of attending Bible College (Union University) and a full year of seminary studies (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary). I’ve studied theology for the past fifteen years by reading books, articles, listening to sermons, etc. But it’s when the confusion and disappointments of life come that we really understand just how little we understand and know about God! It’s how we face and deal with our deepest wounds that really matters. Do we draw closer to God in humility or turn away in bitter disappointment?
Seeing others suffer and face perplexing difficulties in their lives led me to question God and His goodness. I was like Job’s friends who saw others hurting and found myself unable to provide any understanding or help. Thankfully, God brought some wise authors into my life. Jon Bloom, Phillip Yancey, Larry Crabb, and Randy Alcorn have helped me to grow and expand in my understanding of why God often seems hidden and uninvolved.
Hurting people don’t need our insights or theology. They need to be heard and understood. Listening and walking with them is more important than answering questions (unless specifically asked). A hug or shared concern is more precious than wise sayings or try fixing the problems (which we can’t)!
God increases our faith and purifies us
Randy reminds us:
“Trusting God when we don’t hear him ultimately strengthens and purifies us. If our faith is based on lack of struggle and affliction and absence of doubt and questions, that’s a foundation of sand. Such faith is only one frightening diagnosis or shattering phone call away from collapse. Token faith will not survive the dark night of the soul. When we think God is silent or absent, God may show us that our faith is false or superficial. Upon its ruin, we can learn to rebuild on God our Rock, the only foundation that can bear the weight of our trust.”
What is your faith based on? Recall Jesus’ parable about the man who builds his house on the rock. The storms of life will reveal our foundation! God’s silence as the waves crash upon us can be deeply unsettling! But if this unsettling leads you to trust and depend on Him more is that not ultimately an act of mercy? Now might be a good time to revisit “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” and “Rock of Ages”. A good hymn reminds us of God’s truths!
Applications for the time(s) of silence
- Randy explains that “His silence is a matter of perspective.” Randy then provides multiple scriptures to remind us that God is speaking in other ways. He reminds us that God whispers to “bring us to the end of ourselves. To prompt us to be still and seek him. And to build our faith and eventually speak more clearly or heal our hearing problem.”
- “If we lean on him while we wait, God will give us the grace to wait and to listen carefully as we pray, go to trusted Christ-followers for encouragement, and keep opening his word and asking him to help us hear him.” Faith is ultimately victorious!
- As explained in previous blogs, God draws us to Himself by denying us things that we desire more than Him! Sometimes hearing and understanding God keep us from God as we have “selective” hearing. Are we being obedient to what He has already revealed to us?
- No matter how difficult and taxing, keep reading and seeking God in His Word. Go deep in your study–asking questions and seeking to understand God’s message.
- Worship with fellow believers. Often when I least desire to attend and participate in church is when I need to be present and involved the most! Fight the tendency to separate ourselves from others when hurting. True worship flows from broken, humble, and contrite hearts!
May God’s mighty grace and passion for you sustain you during the times of silence!
For His glory and honor I write,