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When God Is Silent

When God Is Silent

Prayer Desolation

I stood under the dim streetlamp, staring at my phone. Flight canceled. Not rescheduled. Canceled. I stuttered my excuses to a disinterested Lyft driver, closed the backseat door, and steered my luggage back toward the house, tears forming in the corners of my eyes.

What was I supposed to do in the middle of the night?

I should have been preparing to board a cross-country red-eye flight to make the Ignatian silent retreat of my dreams. Eight blissful days of peace and intimacy with Jesus, the Lover of my soul, alongside sweet religious sisters.

As I frantically dialed the airline and explained my dilemma, I felt abandoned by God, the very One I ached to be with.

  • Why are You allowing this, Lord? All I want is to be with You. Why is this so hard?

Even though I was able to rebook my flight, I would no longer be there in time to meet the other sisters or be present for the opening Mass. I would not get to enjoy dinner with my spiritual director or spend a day exploring the grounds before entering into nearly a week’s worth of silence.

And when I finally did arrive at the sleepy retreat house after a long, lonely, sleepless night and a brutal day of travel, I collapsed on the stiff mattress and let out a barking cough, knowing that for the next eight days my lungs would burn and my body would ache. But the missed flight and respiratory troubles were just the beginning, and the least painful part, of that week.

I had anticipated quiet on the grounds of the retreat center and in the chapel, but I did not expect silence from God. For eight days, I encountered only a cold and vast silence. I felt my cries echo off canyon walls and return to me as desperate as they had left my lips. I tried, but I couldn’t reach across the void.

  • Where are You, God? Why can’t I hear You or feel You here?

The longing that drove me to seek God in that retreat house’s unfamiliar chapel seemed to mock me as I strained to hear something. Why would He give me this desire to fly with Him only to leave me standing alone on the edge of something beautiful? Why is God sometimes silent? Where are His words when our souls cry out to Him and the loneliness presses out all the air from our lungs? How can the Father seem the farthest from us when we are grasping for a hand?

Perhaps you have stood on this edge. Desperate for help in a financial crisis, aching for comfort after a breakup, reaching out for some sense of stability after a diagnosis — and instead you were left feeling empty-handed.

In those lonely hours, our voices do not go unheard. No, they are joined with another voice that cried out to our hearing, yet hidden, Father:

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? — Matthew 27:46

From the Cross, Jesus gasped these words of the psalmist, forever joining the chorus of hearts that shout out to God. When we stand overlooking this chasm — when we seek God but hear silence — we do not stand alone. Jesus’ outstretched arms reach back. His prayer answers ours. His heart covers the distance.

During those eight nights, sleep and oxygen eluded me, but He was there. In the quiet hours on that hard pew, He listened to everything I said and failed to say. He gave me space. When I wept alone before His stone form hanging from the crumbling Cross, He looked back at me. His knowing eyes were full of love and suffering — with me, for me.

The Lord is not unmoved by your efforts to seek Him in prayer. He is not deaf to your cries in the midnight hours. He does not turn His back when tears slip down your face. When you fear you will never hear Him again, instead breathe deeply.

Even the silence is filled with Him.


  • Even silence is filled with God’s presence. Meditate on this truth.
  • What do you take to Jesus over and over again in prayer? Remind yourself that He is listening even when it feels as though He is not.

~ Beth Davis

Excerpted with permission from Loving God, Loving Others by Beth Davis, Megan Hjelmstad, Nell O’Leary, Bonnie Engstrom, Sarah Erickson, and Emily Stimpson Chapman, copyright Blessed Is She, Inc.

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Your Turn

Have you ever heard only silence from God? Are you in that lonely place now? Keep trusting. Keep calling out. Keep leaning on Him. He is always there with you and for you. ~ Devotionals Daily