What do you do when God is silent?

I was asked to write a post responding to this question from a friend. He has given his life back to Christ and is in the midst of some trying circumstances and has been struggling to feel that God is with him.

What I love about the wording of the question is that it assumes that God is there to begin with. Many people will ask, “Why isn’t God here when I need him?” That line of questioning comes from a deep sense of anger toward God, that he has abandoned you. It will take another post to respond to the heart of that.

This question assumes that God is there and we recognize that he is working in some fashion; we just don’t feel it or see it. It’s a question about hope and faith. It’s a question about action, is there something I can do or should do while I’m waiting on God to reveal himself? That is something we find all through scripture. What do the men and woman of God do when he is silent?

Someone once said to me, “When you don’t hear from God, do the last thing he told you to do.” Sometimes God isn’t giving us any direction or is silent because he is wanting us to just keep doing what we were originally told to do. Sometimes we are not happy with what we are doing and we are hoping that God has something new and so we ask, beg and plead God to tell us to do something different. His silence can be a no, stay where you are at and do what I have asked.

It’s like the parable of talents, you have to be faithful in the small things when the master is gone, so that when he returns you can show him how you multiplied the gifts he had given.

Sometimes God withdraws simply to remind us that he is trusting us with some big things. Following God blindly, in true faith, takes trust. If God promises that he will never leave us, then just because we do not emotionally feel him, it doesn’t mean he has left. It simply is a way for God to make us aware of where our faith is at.

It’s like losing a paper in the wind, you had this encounter with God and now God is saying come and seek me. Some people look at the storm and think, “There is no use, the paper will just move further away the closer I get.” God however, wants you to chase him to bring you to a new spot. He withdrew so that he could lead you to a better place than you were standing. Maybe potentially out of harms way, something we didn’t see. What looks like a paper randomly blown in the wind could lead you to where the wind has stopped blowing and where there might be shelter. We grab the piece of paper and remember who God is and all that he has done for us. When you pick up the paper again it is familiar and safe.

The Bible promises that those who seek God will find him (Jeremiah 29:13). If you truly want God, he will make sure you find him. The Bible also promises nothing can separate us from God, even though we don’t feel his presence it doesn’t mean he has left (Romans 8:38-39).

There is a story in 2 Chronicles 32, of a King named Hezekiah. He was only a few of the good Kings over Judah. Towards the end of his life, it says God withdrew himself from Hezekiah to test him.

“God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.”

– 2 Chronicles 32:31b.

Would he continue to live by God’s righteous decrees even when God wasn’t there to guide him? Can you have integrity when the teacher is out of the room, can you do the right thing even if your parents are gone, when you are off at college or when you start your career? God’s desire is to see how you will respond when the trail before you has gotten dark and all you can see is one step ahead of you.

If God made life crystal clear and his will was revealed to you by an angel then it wouldn’t be faith; it would be fact. Faith, in order for it to be faith has to have a level of uncertainty. It’s the moment before you jump off a zip-line, the instant before you launch off a cliff into water, a second before you bomb down a snowed mountain side, the last jolt of the roller coaster before it goes roaring down the track. Your stomach drops and you just let go. You leap out into the unknown and see where you land.

I promise you when you move forward in faith, continue to do what God has asked you to do, you can trust that he is never far from you. Keep your integrity in tact and be bold. Take courage and heart and don’t cower at the fear of the unknown. Trust in the God who knows all things (1 John 3:20).

God has two wills for you. His general will and his specific will. When we believe God is silent, what we really mean is that his specific will has been withheld. However his general will is always constant. His general will can be summed up when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is. Jesus said love God and love others as you love yourself. If you do that over and over and over on a daily basis, His specific plans for your life will unfold and you will find the wind blown paper at the trail head of a new path and a new adventure.

In Truth & Love,

Matthew Diaz

(Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/norberteder/30374960116)

Looking forward to your addition to this dialogue.