Learning to bend in life includes learning to hold tight when it feels like God goes silent. Hello? Hello? Are you there? So goes the wondering when it comes to the Almighty and his sealed lips. When God feels so eerily distant, has he sealed his heart off from us too?
If you’ve ever felt that quiet disconnect from on high, you are normal. Nomads, knights, emperors, and common folk through the ages have stared at the stars and wondered if God was staring back or just turning his back.
I think every person at some point experiences the audio black hole. The nothingness of communication. Maybe you there right now.
Not What We Expect When God Goes Silent
Some of us may feel the need to reenact the scene in Sister Act when one nun blurts out to an off-key vocalist, “Alma, turn up your hearing aid!” (You can catch the peppy “Oh, Maria” here. Remember that song from the 1992 musical comedy film?) When you’re not sure your voice is being heard up above, it’s tempting, with all due respect, to yell, “God, crank up your hearing aid!”
Yet when God does break his silence, some of the things we prayed in the celestial quietness are not always what we expected. During a teaching series on Noah, my pastor observed, “We pray and pray for God to break the silence, but what do we do when he does?” After three hundred days on that animal-aromatic boat, the first thing Noah did was build an altar to thank and worship God (Genesis 8:20–9:17). He didn’t step off the gangplank and immediately look for fresh water, a restaurant, or a cell tower. Noah went straight to communicating with his mum God.
How are we at waiting in those quiet gaps when we feel God is so far removed? When we are certain God goes silent on us?
“God’s keeping the whole cosmos at work. He’s not gone,” Pastor Josh noted. “He’s not far. He’s doing his thing. He just appearsnotto be.” The ol’ appears not. That one gets me on many a day. It even got King David who bemoaned, “O God, do not remain quiet; do not be silent and, O God, do not be still” (Psalm 83:1).
Does God Need to Tell Us Everything?
Why does God appear buttoned-up toward us at times? When God goes silent, sometimes it’s our sin that blocks us from him. And sometimes, our Creator just doesn’t tell us everything. “Noah waited on God. He wasn’t inactive, but he didn’t take matters into his own hand,” Pastor Josh added. “And that’s where I falter. I don’t know about you. Sometimes when God doesn’t do the thing I want, at the time I think he should, I tap out and I go do my own thing.”
Feeling God has a deaf ear to you right now? Hunker down. Hold on. Hold off on tapping out and doing your own thing. Noah wondered. Noah waited. Noah worshipped. So can we.
Adapted from #107 of Beth’s Brave and Resilient Series.
I miss this message when Josh preached. Thank you! I go do my own thing too. Maybe when God is quiet I need to listen all the more. Thanks Bethie!!
Shelly, excellent point on needing to listen all the more. I can relate to that for sure! This reminds me of the saying that when it feels like God is distant, we are the ones who have moved, not Him.
Love this, Beth. This morning I was reading a devotional with the reminder that what you wrote is true in terms of prayer. We are to thank God even when we don’t get an answer to prayer, knowing that He heard us and He’s working on it!!
So true, Nancy. He IS at work—often behind the scenes and often quietly and tenderly—orchestrating everything together for our good.