“Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.”
Marcus Tulius Cicero
When God Seems Silent…
by Mark Karapetyan
God’s silence is perhaps one of the most puzzling experiences a person encounters along his/her journey as a Christian. It can be discouraging when God seems silent. What do you do when you can’t hear God and He seems so far away?
Every true Christian knows exactly what I’m talking about: It seems as though God is nowhere to be found when you need Him the most; the more you pray to Him, the more distant He feels to you. The closer you get to Him, the further He runs away from you. The more you ask for help, the less He responds.
This is a conundrum that has tormented Christians throughout history. It is an issue that has affected millions of believers in the past, and still affects millions around the globe today. Even atheists and skeptics ridicule and often remind us that the reason God seems silent to His people is that He is absent- He doesn’t exist!
This is a problem that has troubled me personally for years. The more I thought about it, the more it drove me bonkers. I could never understand the logic behind it: How could a powerful God disappear when we, fragile humans, need Him the most? Why does it seem that God is at times silent when we need Him to speak to us the most?
The reason I failed to understand this difficulty (much like most other Christians) is that I was trying to get a logical answer to an emotional question. That never works. In fact, that’s similar to trying to explain cowardice and dishonesty in a science lab.
Now that I have a better understanding of this issue, allow me to explain the reasons why God sometimes seem to be silent.
Here are some:
Because as a Christian, you are living a sinful life:
Sometimes when God is nowhere to be found in your life, and it seems as if your prayers bounce off the ceiling left and right, it is because you are living a sinful life that God doesn’t approve of.
God is infinitely holy; He cannot tolerate sin. That’s why He abandoned His Son Jesus on the cross on that Good Friday; after all of the world’s sins were laid on the shoulders of Jesus. God had to momentarily turn His face away from His one and only Begotten Son, which eventually lead Jesus to wonder why God seemed silent. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22)
When you are continually and knowingly living a sinful life, God will discipline you by giving you the silent treatment to get your attention. Believe it or not, the silent treatment is sometimes necessary. We have all used it with our children, spouses, and friends… it works.
A Christian friend of mine complained to me once that he had been looking for a new job for over a year with no luck. His constant prayers to God were all unanswered. He was very confused and hopeless and did not understand why God was treating him that way.
Months later, I met the same friend at a grocery store, where he told me that he was still jobless. His eyes filled with tears as he told me he didn’t know what else to do. The tears in his eyes made me sad and my heart ached for him. Since I knew him well enough, I decided to advice him: “Look man, I know you don’t want to hear this, but don’t be surprised that God has been ignoring your prayers. He is trying to get your attention and make you see that you are living a sinful life style. Don’t think you can honor God by living together with a woman you are not married to and sharing one bed with. That is something God will not tolerate. Why don’t you repent from that sin first, and then trust God to honor your other requests later.”
My words shook my Christian friend to the core; the Holy Spirit convicted him instantly. Without saying a word, he shook his head, and walked away. Today, my friend has a great job that enables him to take care of himself and his WIFE!
God is not a dictator; He is a father, a parent that cares for His children immensely. When you honor God and shun sin, God in return will honor you and bless your life. What parent doesn’t reward his/her children for good works and obedience?
Biblically speaking, we are told many times that God does not hear sinners. Proverbs 1:28-29, tells us: “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me, because they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord.”
King David reminds us in Psalm 66:18, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”
The apostle John further confirms this: “Now we know that God hears not sinners: but if any man be a worshiper of God, and does His will, him He hears” (John 9:31).
Living a sinful life is one of the strongest reasons why God seems silent toward you. The people of Israel, for example, learned this lesson the hard way. In Deuteronomy 1:40–46, God commanded His people to move into the Promised Land. Instead, they disobeyed, and once again their connection with God was cut off.
“But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God…. You came back and wept before the LORD, but He paid no attention to your weeping and turned a deaf ear to you.”
When the Israelites eventually realized the cost of their disobedience, they cried out to God, but God gave them the silence treatment.
If you are one of those Christians wondering why God hasn’t been active in your life, pause for a second, and ask yourself: what kind of sin do I have in my life that I have not repented of?
Pretty soon, you will hopefully realize that there’s a sin or two in your life that is making God silent towards you. If the desire to sin is stronger than your walk with Jesus, how can you expect the Holy Spirit to guide your life?
Immediately, repent of those sins, ask God for forgiveness, and consider yourself blessed that the creator of the universe Himself is trying to communicate with you through silence in order to get your attention. Lucky for you, liberals, atheists, and skeptics don’t believe in God. Otherwise, they would arrest God for being an unfit parent for giving His children the silent treatment, and you’d end up living somewhere under the supervision of child protected services, controlled and run by the same liberals, atheists, and skeptics who just had God arrested earlier!
Because God wants you to have the faith of a child:
I once read a story of a Christian missionary who was running from being arrested in North Korea for speaking about Jesus in public. For a year, the missionary ran from town to town, hiding here and there evading the North Koreans. Finally, he was somehow able to escape the communist nation and ended up in the cold, snowy mountains alone, unarmed, and hungry. After a week of walking barefoot, starving, and freezing, the missionary went down on his knees and cried out to God: “Lord, if I stay here in these mountains another night, I will surely freeze and die, for I can no longer walk; I’m exhausted. If I return to North Korea, I will be immediately executed in the public square. I don’t know what to do. Jesus, please, have mercy on me; help me for you are my God and my Lord. I completely trust you and give it all to you my King.”
With these words, the missionary collapsed and passed out in the snow…
The next morning, he miraculously opened his eyes and looked at the bright blue sky. When he tried to move his legs, a giant snow leopard that had been lying on top of him all night warming him, panicked and ran away.
Even though God seemed to be missing from the missionary’s life, the opposite was true. God was with him every step of the way because of the man’s faith. You see, God in His infinite wisdom prepares His plans in silence (something we humans need to learn to do).
God wants the same faith from you. No matter what it is you are going through, or how distant God might feel to you, you must have faith in the Lord and remember that “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Why worry when you know that the creator of the universe Himself has your back. How comforting is that?
A few years ago, on a flight from New York to London, a plane went through tremendous turbulences and lost one of its engines. The passengers panicked and started screaming, kicking, and crying. Some were praying, and some were wailing. The entire plane was in total chaos as everyone was in fear for their lives, except for one young girl who calmly sat in her seat and continued reading a book.
When the plane eventually landed in London safely, a woman glanced over and noticed that the book the young girl was reading was a children’s book. She approached the young girl and asked: “Excuse me darling, were you not aware that the plane was about to go down in mid air? Everyone was losing their minds; everyone was terrified, except for you. Why weren’t you afraid?”
The young girl looked at the woman and smiled: “Madam, I wasn’t afraid because my daddy once promised me that no matter what, he would always take me home safely…he is the pilot of this plane!”
If the girl’s daddy was a pilot and she felt no fear of abandonment, how much safer should you feel knowing that your daddy is God, the almighty creator? Why do you despair and forget the promise God Himself gave you? Have you forgotten these precious words? “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
God wants you to have the unconditional and pure faith of a child. God wants you to have faith not only when things are going great in your life, (that’s easy for anyone), but when things are bad and life seems hopeless. Only then will the strength of your faith be truly measured.
When God seems silent, trust Him; have faith in Him, and remember to draw near to Him. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
Because God wants you to grow and mature:
As a good parent, one of the best things you can do for your children is let them grow and mature. Imagine being in your children’s lives 24/7 from the moment they wake up to the minute they get into their beds? Imagine every time your child wants to make a decision about something, you are always THERE guiding and advising them on what they will eat, where they will go, whom they will date, when they will return home… how long do you think this would last before they’d snap at you and ask you to leave them alone?
If you want your children to experience life and learn from its lessons, you don’t lock them in the house like inmates; you allow them to play with other kids, jump, fall, and bruise their knees and elbows. You give them the freedom to make choices and decisions for that is the only way humans can learn to grow and mature normally. Although you are silent while they do all that, you are not absent from their lives. You are right there waiting to kiss the bruises and wipe away the tears from their eyes like a good mommy/daddy nurse. You are right there patiently waiting for them to ask you for guidance or for a solution to a problem they are facing. When they do, your silence turns into a well of knowledge and a beacon of light that navigates them through their difficulties
God is very much the same. He also wants you to live a free life and experience its ups and downs. He lets you suffer and get bruised not because He doesn’t care, but because He knows that suffering builds character. He is not silent while you pain, He is right there waiting for you to ask, and asking is all you have to do…
I once read a story of a Christian woman who begged God to teach her a valuable lesson in life. For months the woman cried out: “Please Lord, teach me a lesson, build my character; I want to be more like your Son Jesus…”
Her unanswered prayers continued for another year but God was nowhere to be found in her life. Finally, tired and weary of asking God for a lesson for more than two years, the woman raged one night: “Lord, where are you? Why don’t you teach me a lesson, why are you silent?”
Suddenly, a thunderous voice was heard from the sky: “I haven’t been silent, I have been teaching you a lesson like you requested, and it’s the lesson of patience.”
Just like the woman, we often fail to pay attention to what is it that God wants us to learn from His lessons. The moment we feel silence, we panic and freak out. We no longer know how to appreciate silence. Sometimes, you don’t need to read the Bible or pray. Sometimes, all you need is to be silent with God. Say nothing, do nothing, and hear nothing. Just be with God and experience His presence. When you are completely comfortable with a person, it is possible to sit in a room together and not utter a word.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Even Christ was silent before His accusers. Anyone else would have pleaded and begged for mercy. Anyone else would have defended himself at any cost. Not Christ. He kept silent for He had already spoken. For three years, He had said all that needed to be said. His time of teaching and illuminating the truth had already been done. Now was the time for silence. There was no point in casting pearls of truth before those who had no desire for it. Christ’s majestic silence was so expressive and powerful that the high priest tore his own clothes in revolt!
“When you cannot hear God,” says Oswald Chambers “you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible — with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation.”
Silence is a beautiful thing; it is a melody the universe plays that we, humans, fail to comprehend. Perhaps, that is why nature is silent. Perhaps, that is why nature considers arguments meaningless. Flowers, roses, sunrises, and sunsets are aware that noise takes away from their beauty and allure, so they choose to remain silent and leave commotion and cacophony to the noisy humans.
Just because God seems silent doesn’t mean you should doubt Him or stop praying. God’s silence isn’t a reason for us to turn our backs on Him. Instead, it’s an opportunity to press forward and seek Him even more diligently.
When God finally speaks to you after being silent for so long, it will be all have been worth it. Why is a first place trophy more precious after it has been earned rather than if it was purchased? Why is a PhD so valuable after years of hard studying? Why is water so much more refreshing when we are really thirsty?
Remember; never mistake God’s silence for His absence!
“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.”
Leonardo da Vinci
APOLOGETICS - ARTICLES AND INFORMATION
- What is Apologetics?
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- When God Seems Silent
- Case #1101
- The Proposal
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