God (Sometimes) Seems Silent
One day, we won’t need to trust His love any longer, because we’ll be in the presence of our One Great Love. After endless years of trying to see Him through the haze and mystery of life’s unanswerable questions, we’ll finally see Him as He’s always seen us — face-to-face. On that day, suffering, tears, death, and mystery itself will be no more. The long journey will be over. At last, sons and daughters of God, we’ll be... home. ~ Kevin Butcher
I sat cross-legged on the bed in my hotel room, hugged my thick Bible to my chest, and prayed the words I’d just read from the Word.
After months of walking through a dark night of the soul, where God seemed silent and the Enemy obnoxiously loud, I finally felt peace, relief, and rest. Like a jolt of lightning, the sun punched through the clouds and the warmth of God’s presence flooded my entire being. I felt loved, seen, cared for, and known. What changed? Had I done something to cause it?
For months the days had felt dreary, the skies cloudy, and God seemed miles away. I longed to hear His voice or sense His nearness or affection. I begged Him to speak.
I fasted, prayed, and worshiped, all into the darkness with no sense of light. While I prayed that my offering meant something to God, I couldn’t help but wonder if He’d changed His mind about me.
I retraced my steps, trying to discern if I’d done something to chase Him away. I asked God to search my heart, know me, and show me what I couldn’t see. Surely, He’d answer such a prayer! But no. I sensed no conviction or correction. I sensed nothing, which made this season even more painful. I was still a young believer. I wish I had known back then what I know now! But isn’t that the way we mature?
- We learn to walk by faith when there’s no sight or seemingly no end in sight.
During that time, several of my friends enjoyed the time of their lives. They were thrilled over breakthrough answers to prayer after only short seasons of struggle. Their kids thrived, their health flourished, and their sense of purpose oozed out of their pores. I was happy for them but sad for me. Was this a test? A punishment? The way God is sometimes? What was I supposed to do in the meantime?
Weeks into this dark season I remembered something I often told my boys when they were young: “Every time you open the Word of God, you open the mouth of God. He speaks mightily through His Word. If you want to discern His voice, get to know His Word.” Were those words still true today? They were.
- Does my silent season have the capacity to change God’s character? No, it doesn’t. Still, why must these silent seasons last so long? And what’s their purpose in our lives?
I decided to rehearse God’s promises and to remember some of the times He spoke to me clearly. I needed to ponder what He’d said back then to see if it made more sense now. Sometimes it did; sometimes it didn’t. I went about my life as best I could. I loved my family, served at church, and navigated health challenges, all with a sad heart. I missed God. There was nothing like His presence.
I realized that I was sad because I’d misinterpreted my experience, which caused me to question what I believed to be true. I did my best to stay the course, but I could have gone through my days with a holy expectancy had I known then what I know now. I would have faithfully served, wholeheartedly believed, and continued in my work until the season shifted.
Since then, I’ve had plenty of similar seasons, and they no longer shake me like this first one did.
I know God is not going anywhere. He promised to get me safely home. So when I can’t hear God’s voice or sense what He’s up to, I remember and rehearse what He’s spoken to me in the past. I reread passages I’ve since memorized. I make sure there’s plenty of time and space in my day to listen. When I’m less apt to doubt His love for me, I wait. I worship. And I believe that in due time He will speak.
To Know His Love
Nothing makes sense if God’s love doesn’t make sense.
God’s love opens our eyes, ears, pores, hearts, cells, and capacity to trust Him in every season. That’s why Scripture says that to know this Love is to be filled to the fullness of God. Because of Jesus, we are now anchored, tethered to our good God, and nothing — not anything — will ever separate us from His love ever again.1
Passing the Test
It was sixth grade. I hovered over my test, pencil gripped too tightly. I knew the answers but suddenly began to second-guess everything I’d learned. Then I felt the presence of someone standing beside me. I looked up to see my teacher, whose kind eyes put my heart at ease. He smiled, gave me a nod, and continued down the row.
My confidence surged; I determined to finish the rest of the test with a poised assurance. After all, my teacher had done his job. He had taught our lessons with kindness and clarity. This test was simply a tool to prove what we knew, to bring to the surface what had been planted in us.
God doesn’t ever tempt us to do evil; that would be contrary to His nature. But He does test us now and then, sometimes to reveal what’s in us. He isn’t wondering about us, but sometimes we’re wondering about ourselves. Certain tests prove how far we’ve come. We live in our own stories, so we’re not always aware of our progress. You’re not the person you were five or ten years ago. If you’ve walked intimately with Jesus, you have more truth in you today than you did yesterday. God sometimes shows you what you know so you’ll more firmly trust Him as you go.
He’s been faithful before. He’ll be faithful again.
Other times, God tests us to show us our areas of need and vulnerability — not to expose us but to prepare us for our next assignment. Such tests help us understand the trials we face and the opposition we endure.
I’ve heard these opportunities called “training time for reign- ing time.”
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. — Ephesians 3:19
Insecurity compels us to take the wrong things personally. We’ll read between the lines and wonder if God’s lack of response is intended to hurt us. We suddenly notice when others seem to overlook us, and the hurt goes deeper than it should. We begin to doubt our worth and place in the greater Kingdom story.
The thing about these dark nights of the soul is that they’re hard, often lonely, and make us wonder if God changed His mind about us (like people sometimes change their minds about us).
We find our footing again by reminding our souls what’s true, even when it doesn’t feel true. The divine authority we possess in Christ, the love that He has unequivocally demonstrated to us, and the mighty, powerful Spirit of the living God right now at work within — these help us to remain confident in our Maker, no matter what kinds of opposition we face or what types of seasons we endure.
- God is still present even if He’s silent. He’ll not abandon you, turn on you, or gossip to someone about you. Never. Ever. Not in a million years.
God is fierce in your defense, consistent with His love, and faithful to His promises. He will finish what He started in you. He delights in you. He’s grateful to call you His own. That’s the unchanging truth about you because of the unchanging love of your invested, interested, involved heavenly Father.
We know our silent seasons have served us well when we emerge from them with a more robust assurance of God’s love, a deeper understanding of His Word, and a greater awareness of our place in His heart.
Excerpted with permission from Closer Than Your Next Breath by Susie Larson, copyright Susie Larson.
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Are you in a season when it seems like God is silent? Have you been seeking His presence, asking for His input, and wondering if He’s forgotten you? We learn to walk by faith when there’s no sight or seemingly no end in sight. He’s still present! He’s still listening. Find your footing by remembering what God’s Word says. He hasn’t changed His opinion about you and He’ll never leave you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full