God promises us His presence, but sometimes he stands next to us in silence.
There have been many seasons in my life when I haven’t heard from God. During these times I’ve wondered what I did wrong. Was there some unconfessed sin in my life? Had I displeased God in some way?
The Bible shows that God is quiet in our lives sometimes, even when we are living for Him. So the questions for us becomes this: what will we do during the silence?
In my most recent season of silence, I had done everything I knew to do. I searched my heart for sin, thinking that it was perhaps the cause, I confided in my accountability partner about my struggle and we prayed together, and I even fasted, but still God was silent.
I looked, but I couldn’t find or hear Him. In my search I stumbled across Psalm 77, a powerful passage of scripture that brought me great comfort.
This Psalm was written by Asaph, the obscure head musician of the Tabernacle during the rein of King David. Asaph led all of Israel in worship, much in the way our worship leaders lead congregations today, but he also shared with them his struggles.
In Psalm 77 he writes, “My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.” A little later he says, “Will the Lord cast off forever? And will he be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever?” (Psalm 77:2-3, 7-8).
Asaph was struggling with God’s silence. He didn’t understand why God wouldn’t bring the comfort he so craved. When we are going through a period of God’s silence it is helpful to know that we know we are not the first to wonder why God isn’t speaking.
It is comforting to know that spiritual greats in the Bible like Asaph, Habakkuk, and Jeremiah all questioned God’s silence. Often times, we are not alone in God’s silence, nor have we done anything wrong. God uses His silence to bring us closer to Him.
We can learn how to respond to God during these times of struggle from the example set forth by Asaph.
Worship through the silence
Asaph’s first response to God’s silence is what distinguishes him. Instead of becoming angered or embittered by God’s prolonged lack of communication, Asaph chose a posture of worship.
If I were to paraphrase the first part of this Psalm, I would write, “God, my soul hurts, and you’re not doing anything about it, but I am going to worship you anyway because you are God and you deserve it whether or not you choose to speak.”
When God is silent we must continue our walk toward Him. We must continue our patterns of worship and of devotional time. Asaph understood God is still God and is deserving of worship even when we don’t feel Him.
Remember what God has done in the past
It is easy to forget all of the miracles and things God has worked in our lives, especially when we are going through a period of God’s silence. Instead of forgetting all of the things that God had done in the past, Asaph clung to them. In verse 7 he writes, “This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right had of the most High.
I will remember the works of the Lord.” Asaph goes on to recite all of the things God had done for Israel. He spoke of God parting the Red Sea and of Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery. He praised the great deeds of God.
When I read this passage of scripture during my own struggle, I fell on my knees and worshiped God. I took time to recount everything that I remembered God doing in my life. I remembered my salvation experience and read through my prayer journals to see all the ways God had answered my prayers.
God had carried me through so much and in remembering all that God had done, I realized that God was not going to let me down now. Even if I was going through a period of silence, God would still continue to work in my life.
When God is quiet, become quieter
God is quieter than we often imagine Him to be. I wonder if, when Jesus preached the sermon on the mount, he used a soft voice himself. Perhaps when God is quiet, we too should strive to open our ears. Perhaps God is preparing to speak to us in a powerful way.
God isn’t silent needlessly. He uses these times of silence to bring us closer to Him. If you look at the rest of Asaph’s Psalms, you can see that he was close to God. God used these times of silence and questioning to draw Asaph near. He can do the same thing for us if we are willing to humble ourselves and join Him in His silence.
I wish there was a magic button to make God speak. Life would be much easier. Even though I was following Asaph’s example set out in scripture, God was still silent in my life for a long time.
It wasn’t for many months that I begin to feel God speaking directly to me. I don’t know why He allowed for that period of silence, but I do know that by following Asaph’s example I grew closer to God and became a stronger Christian.
~ By Nathan Smith