Written by Daniel Hamlin, USA
Does God ever go silent?
It’s a reasonable question. My first reaction to it is an emphatic, “Yes!” Two years ago I felt the Lord lead me to complete some schooling I’d started, but had procrastinated on finishing for the previous dozen or so years. I felt sure I’d need to finish it in order to prepare for the next chapter in my life. So I went back to school.
I worked on completing the program, and expected I’d know what to do after I was done. Any doubts about my un-known future were quickly dismissed by my focus on the task at hand.But now school is done, and I’m faced with a question I sincerely dislike: “What’s next?”
As I’ve tried to figure out the answer, I’ve repeatedly—and at times desperately—sought the Lord in prayer. His direction was so clear when He led me to finish the degree, that I was sure once I was done, He’d show me what’s next. But as of yet, nothing. Crickets. Seeming silence.
The uncertainty invites anxiety into my life, and anxiety invites doubt. Soon it feels like a house party with the worst of guests, all tempting me to question God’s faithfulness. Did I really hear God? Does He even care? Was it just my imagination? Why doesn’t He answer me? These are the questions that are trying to take up residence in my head.
In my current season of life, I’m wrestling a lot with whether God ever decides to just not answer us, or to simply not speak. And I’ve come to the belief that God is always revealing something, even if He is silent.
Perhaps the best example of this concept I found in Scripture was while Jesus’ body lay in the tomb. On the surface, it seems like Heaven went silent when the disciples needed reassurance the most. The body of the promised Messiah, the One to whom the disciples had pledged their lives, whom they expected to reign forever, was lying in a tomb, dead. Can you imagine how difficult and lonely those three days must have been? Imagine the anxiety, fear, and despair they faced. Perhaps they felt like they’d been the victims of a divine hoax. Jesus had proven His identity to them, yet now He lay buried, and their hope crushed. Prior to His death, their futures seemed certain and secure, but now they found themselves as outlaws without a leader.
But while the disciples wrestled with the silence, God was accomplishing His triumph over hell and sin—Jesus’ eternal victory over death. In retrospect, the disciples could see what was taking place when they felt God had gone silent. When it seemed that God had forgotten about humanity, He was in fact saving it.
In the midst of my own uncertainty, I’ve read a lot of Psalms. The psalmists often wrestle with why God seems to be silent. David, perhaps more than any other, often cries out to God regarding this. One particular verse has provided a lot of comfort. In Psalm 27:13 David states, “I remained confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” David’s life proved the truth of this verse—he did see the goodness of the Lord in his life in spite of many seasons where it felt like he’d been forgotten. He received the kingdom that God had promised him (2 Samuel 5:4); God fulfilled His Word and proved His steadfast faithfulness. The empty tomb of Christ proves this as well. These truths make me consider the possibility that when God seems silent, perhaps He is accomplishing more than I can imagine.
So instead of asking if God is silent, I find a more appropriate question to ask myself is whether my faith is in the God whom the Bible reveals, or in my feelings and my certainties? As I wait for God’s direction during this season of silence, I remind myself that God has never let me down yet in life, so I shouldn’t doubt His faithfulness now. I remind myself that while Christ’s body lay in the tomb and it seemed Heaven went silent, God accomplished the greatest act of love for me that I’ll ever know. And I spend a lot of time in Scripture, because by it God has told us all we need to know for this life.
If God is silent, it doesn’t mean He’s absent, and I don’t want to let silence make me question God anymore. As Oswald Chambers said,
Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life: gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life . . . We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God.