I’ve been watching some friends be lied about and gossiped about for quite some time now. This post isn’t about them except that I’ve been praying and trying to encourage and lift them up. And, the Lord has been silent.
The trial is not over. It continues and it’s not fair. And, the Lord is silent.
Waiting on the Lord has been bringing up some pain for me that I’ve haven’t wanted to look at or think about. Times when only God could do something and yet, He didn’t. Situations where only He could change them and yet, He didn’t. I felt as dry and lifeless as that old nest I pictured above. But, eventually, through prayer and scriptures I would pull myself together and trust Him anyway.
But this recent trial – not even mine – seems to be hitting me hard. Maybe it’s harder to watch others go through the valley than to travel it yourself. Or maybe it is time for me to deal with some stuff I’ve let sit for awhile.
Today, through tears, I googled “When God is silent” and one of the first responses was a sermon by Charles Stanley by the same name. It really blessed me and I wanted to share parts of it with others as needed.
I don’t think we need to examine times when God was silent, I’m sure each of us have our own stories, but one Mr. Stanley didn’t mention that always has struck me was all the times God was silent when Job was persecuted. It’s almost the end of the book before the Lord replies. (And, when He does, wow!) But all that time, Job had to sit there, mourning and grieving. A wife who just wanted him to curse God and die! And friends who were sure there was sin to confess! I’m sure you’ve heard “Where there’s smoke…” 🙁
Mr. Stanley moves on from his examples and right into WHY?! Yes! My heart cried, “WHY?!” Mr. Stanley listed 7 reasons and a couple really stood out to me:
- To get our attention. When the bills are all paid and the bellies are full, am I likely to turn to God? Well, we should, but if I am honest I will admit that I am more likely to turn to Him when life is hard. When I need guidance, comfort and support.
- To teach us to trust in Him. Oh yes, I can see and feel that…now.
- To teach us the practice of sitting quietly in His presence. In the hard days after Joshua died and my arms were so very empty, I was afraid of my own thoughts. Bedtime was very scary because I couldn’t stop all the what ifs and maybes in my head. I started to visualize crawling up into my Abba Father’s lap and having Him enfold me in his powerful strong arms. Only then did quiet and sleep come. He was silent, but He was there.
There are many ways we can respond to God’s silence. Some are disappointed and discouraged. They doubt He’s really there. They fear they have committed a sin TOO great for forgiveness and maybe they’ve lost their salvation. And, sometimes they get angry.
But Mr. Stanley does a great job reminding of us what we SHOULD do in the face of God’s silence!
- Ask the Lord why. Even Jesus questioned the Father. It’s OK. Ask Him! Pray and then listen for Him to speak.
- Remember God’s silence doesn’t mean he’s inactive! Trust Him. Remember, He works for good in our lives!
- Anticipate a more intimate relationship with Him. I admit this one made me stop and think. Yes! Hope in the midst of the Storm (a ongoing theme in my life – thank you Lord!)
- Respect God’s right to be silent. Another one that stopped me cold. Sometimes I relate my relationship with God to my parenting. Aren’t there times I don’t reply because it will help them grow, but sometimes I am silent because I have already told them what they need to do or go and now they just need to do it. Wow.
- Read the Bible, and tell the Lord you are available to listen. Today as I struggled, I wrote out Scripture to help me take it in even more. The Lord definitely spoke through the words that were coming in through my eyes, rattling around in my brain and coming out in the motions of my fingers! I was so blessed by this simple act.
- Finally, keep praying. Eventually, you will have a breakthrough. When I reflect on where I’ve been – and the silent times – I remember that He does not stay silent. Praise the Lord!