I confess to having real envy for those blessed people who appear to have an endless conversation with God, rich and rewarding, always feeling His hand on their shoulders. I don’t! Yes, I know His Presence and love Him. There are times of worship when He is near, when the sweetness of His love comforts and I know Him as Friend. I also know seasons when there is nothing but silence. In such times, in the quiet of the night, I borrow the Psalm as my plea – “I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me? Return, O Lord, and rescue me. Save me because of your unfailing love.” (Psalm 6:3-4, NLT) Every Christian, small and great, young and old, has known or will know what it means to ‘walk by faith’ when the Presence is inaccessible.
Having walked in this faith for a long time and convinced by both Scripture and long experience that our God is faithful and good, I pursue Him even when I cannot see Him. Sometimes I realize that I have moved. I have, willfully absented myself from fellowship with disobedience or neglect. It is also true that my soul’s health is effected by fatigue, by too much work; even by the dark, cloudy days. Still, there are times when no matter my engagement with spiritual disciplines that I seek Him without sensing His presence. Have you walked in times of God’s silence? Read on for hope.
It is an evidence of maturity that we are willing to trust and serve God as much in the ‘dark night of the soul’ as in the moments of joyful song! He is equally worthy of our praise when we are in the depth of the valley as when He is when we are on the height of the mountain. I can tell you from my personal experience that enduring those silences and keeping faith through intense trials creates many opportunities for revelations of the truth about ourselves and our God.
Let us never conclude that the silence of God is the same as the absence of God. Life changes. Jesus is the same. He is always there even when we cannot or will not engage with the Holy Spirit. It is a mistake to adopt the philosophy of the Stoics, putting on our game face, and marching ahead. When we feel alone, we can weep. When we see suffering that overwhelms our faith, eclipses our hope, we do not sin when we cry, when we wonder, when we plead for relief. Godly people enjoy vibrant emotions.
Both joy and the sorrows are part of living and God made us richer by giving us those feelings. Would we give away love so that we would never feel alone? Would we surrender joy so that we could not know sorrow? In all of our feelings, it is faith makes us steady, not stoic. When we are ‘in Christ,’ our lives are equally fruitful with the Spirit’s character in the darkest nights and the brightest noonday. So, set your hope in Him. Pray that the Holy Spirit will mature a steady faith in you that remains evident in tears and laughter, because your life is anchored to the Rock. “…we …have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us … We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:18-19, NIV)
When He is silent, when His ways are beyond our discerning, let us not accuse Him of faithlessness in anger! In this, we sin. Paul wrote of his own path of struggle. His words are not warm and fuzzy like a Hallmark™ card, but they are true and rock solid in truth that sustains us. “God has been kind enough to trust us with this work. That’s why we never give up.” (2 Corinthians 4:1, CEV) “We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us. We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again. We face death every day because of Jesus. Our bodies show what his death was like, so that his life can also be seen in us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-11, CEV)
Enduring a season of silence? Does God seem far away? Be steady. Reach out to those who will encourage you with genuine love and with truth, not cliché’ and proof-text. Surrender and sit before Him, even if you feel like raging at the darkness. Here is a word from the Word for such times. “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:5-8, NLT)
Martin Luther, who gave us the Reformation, wrote of many times of silence. The man wrote this – “O Almighty and Everlasting God! How terrible is this world! Behold, it opens its mouth to swallow me up, and I have so little trust in thee!” Yet, he also penned this great hymn. So, friend, let’s go steady on, until the Son shines again.
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe
His craft and power are great
And armed with cruel hate
On earth is not his equal
Did we in our own strength confide
Our striving would be losing
Were not the right man on our side
The man of God’s own choosing
Dost ask who that may be
Christ Jesus it is He
Lord Sabaoth His name
From age to age the same
And He must win the battle
Martin Luther – Public Domain